I must admit knowing nothing about ancient Japan or Dogu. But I’d seen a review of the exhibition and found these small ceramic statues attractive and intriguing.
They are crude, simple representations of the human form. Some clearly represent fertility and could have been intended to help secure safe childbirth. Other were found buried next to infants; child mortality being rife at the time. A few are known to have been buried in the community ground when it was time to abandon the village, suggesting a nomadic lifestyle.
Embellished and decorated, plain and crude. Whatever they are, these stunning clay statues are truly fascinating and I guess part of the attraction is not knowing for certain what their purposes were.
One of the reviews I recently read suugested that influences of the Dogu can be found in the work of artists like Picasso and Ernst. I can see that. I can also see that they are not dissimilar to wooden statues used in rituals in Africa.