Brief description of Kitora Tumulus

110Ancient Japanese culture derived from the cultures of East Asia.

The four directional deities, held in common with China and the Korean Peninsula

The Kitora murals are thought to have been drawn to infuse the stone chamber with a world view based on traditional Chinese thought. They thus display themes common to murals in tombs of East Asia, such as those of China and the Korean Peninsula. Some theories hold that the painters who drew the murals were an artisan group of immigrant descent.

The Chinese zodiac images with animal heads on human bodies were guardian deities for the person interred.

Strong Chinese influence is visible in the zodiac figures drawn at Kitora as animal heads on human bodies. While the characteristic of holding a weapon in hand is not seen in China, they are thought to have been drawn for the same purpose of comforting the soul of the interred. Zodiac figures with weapons in hand in the same manner as at Kitora are seen on the Korean peninsula.

◎Decorated tombs filled with primitive energy

Kyushu, eastern Japan, etc.

Decorated tombs are those with decorations applied to the chamber stones either by direct painting, etching with a stylus-like tool, or by three-dimensional carving with a chisel or other implement. Decorations include geometric patterns, plus iconic representations of objects such as swords, bows, and boats, or of people, animals, and birds.

◎Tombs with refined murals

The Asuka region

The wall surfaces of these murals are the walls of the stone chamber’s interior, coated with plaster. Compared with the other decorated tombs, as this surface permits the display of finer techniques, minutely drawn expressions were executed with sensitive strokes. Brushed on top of roughly sketched designs, the drawings depict the four directional deities, human figures, zodiac images, celestial maps, star charts, and so forth.