Research Items


    AINU NEOLITHIC IMPLEMENTS.—We have received a communication from Dr. N. Gordon Munro of Karuizawa Japan in reference to our comments on the Rev. F. Smith's book, “Prehistoric Man and the Camrbridge Gravels” (see NATURE, April 9, p. 523), and directing attention to the question of the derivation of certain types of palæolithic implements from shell forms. Dr. Munro states that among his collection of Ainu neolithic implements, now unfortunately destroyed by tho earthquake, were a considerable number commonly called Tengu no meshi kai, or rice-spoons of the Tengu, Tengu possibly moaning spirits of the wild or soil. Inspection, suggested that these wore copies of shells, and as they were made of igneous rock, obsidian, or chert, rarely agate, there could be no question of the eonchoidal fracture being responsible for the form. Conventionalism had resulted in a notched or button-shaped survival of the uinbo, but of the attempted representation of the convexity and concavity of the shell there eould be no doubt. Kai stands for both spoon and shell, and in the ancient Chinese pictographs the spoon is represented by a shell, and shells are still in use in Japan as spoons. This may be in part responsible for the survival of the name quoted. Dr. Munro has examined a large number of specimens from the Thames gravels, and among them has recognised many as similar to his Ainu specimens,—a resemblance based upon the ensemble rather than the concboidal fracture. He suggests that the palaeolithic artisan noted the resemblance ami was influenced thereby to transfer the functional form of the shell to the flint.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Cite this article

    Research Items. Nature 120, 312–314 (1927).

    Download citation


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.