Designs of the decorated tombs – what did they mean?

About 484 decorated tombs with painted interiors – some with stone engravings — can be found throughout Japan. About 200 of these are concentrated in the Kikuchi River basin in Kyushu.

Many others are located in north-eastern Japan in Tohoku, and Kanto. The ornamented tombs of Japan are markedly different in style from those in Korea which have mural displays of realistic scenes.

In Japan, the art of tombs tend towards colourful geometric and abstract symbols and motifs that lack distance and depth.

The only exception where continental influence on local tomb art is clear is that of the late 7th century Takamatsuzuka Tomb and the Kitora Tomb. These tombs show similarities to some of the Korean tombs of the Koguryo kingdom.


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