What is Magatama? 勾玉とは?

  1. Magatama (勾玉) is also sometimes written as 曲玉.
  1. Magatama have been used since the early Kofun period (3rd century CE), but they suddenly disappeared in the later half of the 7th century following the introduction of Buddhism.
  1. In ancient times, Japanese people wore magatama jewels which resemble the shape of the sun and moon on necklaces when worshipping the vast universe to receive the blessings of the sun and moon’s energy. Moreover, they made a hole in magatama and strung them on a cord, believing that they would be connected to their ancestors and receive the blessings of their spiritual power and vitality. 
  1. The ancient Japanese wore magatama stones as amulets that would invite good fortune. Because people of elevated status and those who performed rituals in particular wore them, magatama also came to be recognized as symbols of power and authority.
  1. There is no established theory as to the magatama’s shape. Besides the idea that they resemble the sun and moon, there are also theories that they are meant to symbolize a fish hook, fang, kidney, or unborn child.
  1. The fundamental color of magatama is green, as they are often made from jade (hisui) or green agate (menou). This mystical dark green color, like the sprouts of plant life in the Spring, was thought to produce and stimulate vitality in humans. Stones of this color and shape were considered to generate vibrations, and these vibrations resonate with those generated by humans and grow stronger, strengthening the wearer’s vitality, protecting their physical health, repelling disaster and misfortune that would attack their body, and bringing confidence and good fortune, as well as mental health.
  1. There are also white and red-colored magatama made from quartz crystals and red agate, as well as ones made from glass and clay. In terms of shape, there are also variations on the most common, fang-shaped magatama, such as round ones (marutama) and cylindrical ones (kudatama).

Translated by our volunteer Kaitlyn Ugoretz









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