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Ceremony Tool

Mirrors, bells, kettles, cauldrons, ceremonial weapons, ironware, earthenware, bronze goods, jasper objects, etc.

ceremonial artifacts

Ceremonial artifacts of various kinds have been unearthed in Gaya tombs. When the dead were buried in ancient times, specific ceremonies were carried out to honor the deceased and the remains of such rituals can be seen to this day. Generally speaking, most objects found at gravesites were connected to ceremonies in some way or another. But a problem arises when we regard all relics found in tombs-like earthenware or ironware--as ceremonial objects. Ceremonial objects were those objects used indirectly or directly in ceremonies, rather than the general goods that were left behind in tombs. Whether or not an object was used for ceremonial purposes can be discerned from particular actions that appear to have been performed at a burial site or the location or state of an object. In other words, tomb artifacts have to be placed within a wider context to understand their significance. If objects were placed in certain areas in a certain way, it is possible to tell what the purpose of the objects was and if they had any significance in a ceremonial sense for the deceased. When objects do not appear to have been placed anywhere for a specific ceremonial purpose, they fall into the category of general burial accessories. Consider the following examples.

bronze spear

A bronze spear unearthed in the upper part of Tomb No. 90 at the Gimhae Yangdong-ri excavation site differs from other objects at the site because of its location and the fact that is broken into two pieces. A large-mouth cauldron in Tomb No. 130 at the Gyeongju Sara-ri excavation site appears to possess ceremonial significance as it is located at the edge of the tomb's hollow wooden coffin. At the Daeseong-dong excavation site, a large bent sword was found in Tomb No.29. This peculiar custom of sword-bending came to this region from the north, revealing a unique cultural ritual in the area The custom of burning wooden outer-coffins, noted at several tombs among the remains at Yangdong-ri, can be understood within the same context.

When the dead were buried in tombs, objects were used to decorate the tomb or were left for the deceased to use in the afterlife. Many objects could be used to provide solace or dignity to the dead in their future journeys. In many cases, objects with common uses in everyday life had very mystical and magical connotations when they were left in tombs with the dead. Thus, it is no easy task distinguishing which objects in a tomb have special significance and which objects have no special meaning. For example, a weapon found in a grave might simply have been the owner's property, or it might have been placed there as a shaman's tool to ward off demons. Earthenware in the shape of ships or birds to convey the souls of the dead must be understood within the same context.

earthenware in the shape of ships earthenware in the shape of birds

Among ancient remains, certain types of objects appear to have had special purposes such as maintaining the dignity of the dead and protecting souls in their afterlife. Among the artifacts which seem to have possessed such meanings and appear to have been used for ceremonial purposes were such objects as mirrors, bells, tripod kettles, large-mouth cauldrons, ceremonial weapons, iron implements, barbed iron implements, earthenware in the form of ships or ducks, cylindrical bronze goods, jasper goods, and so on.

According to Dongi-jeon, the Gaya people used bells during burial ceremonies. The Gaya would "erect a large tree and hang a drum and a bell on it" in the special space called a "Sodo." A shaman would use the bell to summon ghosts. Objects such as iron chisels, iron and bronze spears, and barbed arrowheads may seem just to be weapons, but they are often ceremonial objects that were not used in battle. A jasper arrowhead unearthed at Daeseong-dong in Tomb No. 13 was one such ceremonial object.

"Three of God's tools" is a phrase used to describe three objects which often appear in Gaya tomb sites together-a sword, a mirror and a jade stone. As early as the Bronze Age, these three objects were buried together with the dead. The "three tools" appear to symbolize the deceased's authority. As such sets have been found at many tombs at Yangdong-ri and Daeseong-dong, we know that this practice was followed after the Bronze Age.

A common tool of the shaman, mirrors symbolized the sun and displayed an owner's authority. In Tomb No. 14 at Daeseong-dong, a fragment of a mirror with a floral pattern was found which had been reused as a pendant by making a hole to one side.

Ceremonial objects unearthed at Gaya excavation sites were either shaman tools or the property of rulers who were perceived also as religious authorities. Leaders after the Bronze Age appear to have had a religious aura about them, but leaders appearing toward the Three Kingdoms Era tended to be more overtly political in nature. Therefore, the number of shamanistic objects in tombs dwindled over this period, and weapons such as large swords with decorative ring hafts were more commonly left behind.