Magatama stones are a type of Japanese ornament and jewelry that has existed since the 3rd century AD. Magatama is one of the most ancient forms of jewelry or ornamentation in Japan. Fortunately, there is archeological evidence of its evolution from its earliest inception in the 3rd century AD.
What Is Magatama And Its Origin?
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It is believed that the Magatama (which are essentially beads that are comma-shaped) have existed since the prehistoric period of Japan, before the rise of the kingdoms and states of power. The prototype Magatama beads have been recovered from sites that are believed to have been established in 1000 BCE.
The original Magatama beads were thought to be jewelry or had mostly decorative applications. The oldest specimens were made from earthen materials and primitive stone carvings. By the Kofun period, however, the Japanese have shifted to creating Magatama beads with jade, which is the gemstone of royalty and power. As the material changed, so did the symbolism and cultural significance of the Magatama beads. There is also evidence that the Magatama concept was widely dispersed throughout Japan, though in the early centuries, there wasn’t much uniformity in their appearance. It is believed that these beads were constantly traded throughout the archipelagic trade routes of the Japanese.
The first types of Magatama beads flourished during the Final Jomon Period.
Various natural materials like serpentinite, nephrite, jadeite, quartz, gneiss, clay, slate, and talc were used to create the comma-shaped beads during this time.
Again, there was barely any uniformity with the various available designs for the beads. Every region of Japan had its standard of how to create the Magatama beads.
It was widely believed that Magatama beads were imitations of animals’ massive teeth like bears and tigers. Jomon relics show the ancient beads with a piercing at the top, which suggested that people wore these beads. It was also during the Jomon period that signs of shifting meaning were seen. Magatama beads were no longer just beads for decorative purposes, but they were now used for different ceremonial functions. This design flourished easily because there were plenty of naturally-occurring materials that can be used for the production of Magatama beads. Talc and jade were plentiful, so we also see a lot of talc and jade beads. Various sites throughout Japan have also been identified as areas for the production of Magatama beads.
What Does The Magatama Symbol Mean?
Like many ancient artifacts, the Magatama beads have grown to have different significations since the ancient period. It is part of the Three Shinto Regalia, which includes the jewel, the sword, and the sacred mirror. In its earliest inception, the Magatama has symbolized the avoidance of evil in its many manifestations. Evil is a universal occurrence in many world histories and belief systems. Like Evil Eye artifice, which protects people from jealousy and evil intentions of the blue-eyed people, we can say that the Magatama beads perform a similar function in people’s lives and different ceremonies.
On the other hand, the Magatama is also known for bringing fortune, good luck, and prosperity. As it drives away evil, the Magatama beads also bring happiness and abundance to those who bear it.
Another angle that we find interesting is that the shape of the Magatama beads resembles teeth or tusks. The shape may have strong roots in the agricultural origins of the ancient Japanese. Perhaps at one point, the Magatama was a charm for good fortune when people were expecting a better harvest or when they wanted their livestock and cattle to avoid diseases, which would, of course, have a severe economic impact on them.
Another explanation is that the Magatama beads came from a Korean symbol that indicated the mother’s womb. In this explanation, the Magatama represents life, Creation, prosperity, and all the good things that came with harmonizing with nature and the entirety of Creation. Of course, it also represented a new child’s birth, which is always a cause for celebration in many cultures. The birth of a child in itself had many symbols, and many folk beliefs swirl around the Creation of new life.
Another possible source of the symbolism would be the Tao belief system, which has Chinese origins. The Taoism symbol from China is called the dokyo in Japan. The Yin and Yang symbol represented the harmony between all the dark forces, and all the light forces look exactly like the Magatama bead.
Keep in mind that the earliest Magatama beads were found in burial mounds. Perhaps the Magatama beads were placed there for good fortune or ward away spirits that may disturb the dead. Another possible angle was that it paved the way for the dead’s spirit to commune with the ancestors more easily.
What Gemstones Are Most Commonly Used to Make A Magatama Charm/ Pendulum?
Modern Magatama beads, charms, and pendulums are made from a variety of crystals. Remember that these are wards against evil and negativity, and having one nearby can potentially defend you from psychic attacks and the negative energies of toxic individuals.
A Magatama bead, charm, or pendulum will have different properties depending on the type of crystal used.
To reduce confusion on the selection of the beads, we’ve prepared a guide that is based on the color of the gemstone instead of the specific crystal:
- White crystals – These are linked with the godhead, and they enhance the creativity of the person using the white Magatama.
- Gray crystals – These are linked with the power of application and action. The center you so you can act on important issues in your life.
- Purple crystals – Purple Magatama is connected with the soul or spirit. Use such Magatama to improve your capacity to connect with the Source and channel the Universe.
- Blue crystals – This type of Magatama will enhance your capacity for self-expression.