Dogu Figures

Dogu Figures

Evidence of Japan's prehistoric alien visitors?

A few days before the big earthquake in Japan, I happened to stumble across an episode of a show on The History Channel called "Ancient Aliens" which discussed Dogu figurines in depth. I made a note to research them later, and now I can't help but wonder what has happened to these historical sites in the disaster. 

Dogu figurines are small fired clay statuettes of humanoid figures, which were made in the late Jomon Period of Japanese history, between 14,000 and 400 BC. The Jomon culture was a Paleolithic culture of hunter gatherers which settled in Japan and began to create the world's first example of pottery vessels.

There is a lot of variation in Dogu figurines, yet all of them share a similar set of qualities. Clearly these were something of a fad among the Jomon people, an artistic line that lasted for several thousand years. Most reputable anthropologists believe they are fertility symbols, or involved in fertility rituals. (But isn't that what they always say? It's the "tastes like chicken" of the anthropology world. When in doubt, write it off as a fertility symbol!)

Dogu figurines seem humanoid, although grossly distorted. Many of them have extremely overdeveloped breasts or butts, or have a tiny waist with hugely swollen arms and legs. And a surprising number of them seem to be wearing goggles.

In fact, one of the most prevalent styles of Dogu figurines are called "Shakokidogu," derived from the term "shakoki" which means "light blocking device." These figurines seem to be wearing slit goggles, similar to those worn by the Inuit to prevent snow blindness.

You can look at Dogu figurines and think, "Gosh, they had some strange artistic fads back in the Iron Age." Or you can look at them and think, "I bet those represent the aliens who came to Earth to give culture to the Japanese."

Such was the contention of many UFO specialists interviewed on "Ancient Aliens." The Dogu figurines do indeed look something like a person in a weird space suit. And their emergence in the artistic record coincides with a rich period in the development of Japanese culture. (Although you would be hard pressed to find a 10,000 year period in history in which that was NOT the case.)

Do the Dogu figurines represent aliens who brought Japan to the Japanese, so to speak? Or could they actually be time travelers who traveled back in time for the same reason? (And doesn't that sound like the plot of a sloppy time travel movie? "Time traveler travels back in time to create what would become his own culture.")

One feature which is common to almost all Dogu is the intricate patterning. Each figure is covered in swirls and stamps which coil around their torsos, encircling their limbs. And each one seems to have nipples, if not breasts. Do these represent elaborately patterned space suits? Or do they simply represent heavily tattooed people, both male and female?

One of the richest archaeological sites for Dogu figurines is in a town called Ishinomaki, which was one of the hardest hit by Friday's earthquake. Here's hoping that the site - and the archaeologists researching it - came through the event unharmed.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons