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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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Magatama (勾玉), less frequently (曲玉), are curved, comma-shaped beads that appeared in prehistoric Japan from the Final Jōmon period through the Kofun period, approximately ca. 1,000 BC to the 6th century AD. The beads, also described as jewels, were made of primitive stone and earthen materials in the early period, but by the end of the Kofun period were made almost exclusively of jade. Magatama originally served as decorative jewelry, but by the end of the Kofun period functioned as ceremonial and religious objects. Archaeological evidence suggests that magatama were produced in specific areas of Japan and were widely dispersed through the entirety of the Japanese archipelago by trade routes.
Magatama first appeared in Japan in the Final Jōmon period, ca. 1000 to 300 BC., and in this period magatama were made from relatively simple, naturally occurring materials, including clay, talc, slate, quartz, gneiss, jadeite, nephrite, and serpentinite. They lack the uniformity of design found in magatama produced in later periods. Magatama from the Jōmon period period were irregularly shaped, lacked continuity in form from region to region, and have been called "Stone Age magatama" for this reason. Magatama are thought to be an imitation of the teeth of large animals, pierced with a hole, which are found in earlier Jōmon remains. These resemble magatama, but more recent scholarship indicates that these early Jōmon may have simply had a decorative function, and have no relationship to magatama. Magatama in the Jōmon period appear to have moved from the purely decorative to having a status and ceremonial function by the end of the period. A "middle Jōmon exchange network" may have existed, whereby magatama were produced in regions where materials for their manufacture were readily plentiful. Jade and talc examples from bead-making villages at the head of the Itogawa River have been found at a large number of sites in along the northern coast, central mountains, and Kantō Region.
Magatama in the Yayoi period, ca. 300 BC to 300 AD, are notably different than Jōmon period magatama. The jewels moved from a primitive, non-standard form towards more polished and uniform form in this period. The technology to cut large gemstones and polish jewels notably advanced in the Yayoi period. Refined materials such as jadeite, serpentinite, and glass replaced the less sophisticated materials of the Jōmon period. Yayoi period magatama are noted for their reverse C-shaped form, which by the end of the period became an almost squared shape. From the Yayoi period on magatama uniformly feature a bored hole that allowed the jewels to be held on a string.
The Yayoi period is marked by specific centers specializing in magatama and the widespread trade of magatama. The period is marked by the formation of power centers that came to be individual states. The development of weapons increased in this period to protect increasingly developed rice fields and fishing rights. Trade greatly increased in this period, as did the specialization of production of certain items, including magatama. Magatama producing areas exchanged their product with other products, specifically rice, leading to the widespread distribution of magatama across Japan. Magatama were commonly used to create necklaces and bracelets worn on the wrists or ankles. The necklace was typically constructed of jadeite magatama separated by cylindrical bored-holed pieces of jasper. Small beads of dark-blue glass are also not uncommon on the necklace. The bracelet was typically also used shells from the coastal areas of Shikoku and the Inland Sea, wood, and bronze. In this period the use of the mirror, sword, and jewels as status symbols for village, and later regional leaders of all kinds, emerged in the Yayoi period, and point to the origin of the mirror, sword, and magatama as the Imperial Regalia of Japan.
The Records of the Three Kingdoms, the earliest historical document with a reference to Japan, describes the Wa people, an ancient country of Yamataikoku, and its queen, Himiko. The Record indicates that when Himiko passed away her relative Iyo, a girl of thirteen, was made queen and sent a delegation of twenty officials under Yazuku, an imperial general, to offer tribute to the Northern Wei court.
The delegation visited the capital and [...] offered to the court five thousand white gems and two pieces of carved jade, as well as twenty pieces of brocade with variegated designs. (Adapted from Tsunoda and Goodrich, Japan and the Chinese dynastic histories, pp. 8-16)
The carved jade in the Record likely describes a tribute of two jade magatama.
Magatama became very common in the Kofun period, ca. 250 AD to 538 AD., and by the end of the period almost all kofun tumuli contained magatama. In the early Kofun period magatama were made from jadeite as in earlier periods, but by the middle of the period were made from jasper, and by the end of the period, almost exclusively of agate and jade. Magatama capped by silver or gold also appear towards the end of the period. Large magatama made of talc, imitations of smaller ones made of more precious materials, were used as funerary objects. Magatama are found in kofun tumuli across Japan from the period. Their use went from merely decorative to sacred and ceremonial grave goods. Chōjigashira magatama (丁字頭勾玉) are magatama with inscriptions that look like flowers of the clove tree and have a hole suitable to attach to a string. These first appear in the Kofun period. In the Kofun period magatama appear on necklaces, with several magatama set between bored cylinders. Archeological remains show evidence of similar ankle bracelets, but theey are less common. Clay haniwa funerary objects of the Kofun period depicting commonly depict people wearing the necklaces and ankle bracelets.
Examples of stone magatama from the Kofun period are especially numerous.
Archaeologists and historians are unable yet to explain what the origins of magatama forms are, or whether these forms can be traced back to one convergent source. However, these alternative explanations have been provided:
The Kojiki and Nihon shoki, completed in the 8th century, have numerous references to magatama. They appear in the early in the first chapter of the Nihon shoki, which largely describes the mythology of Japan. Susanoo, god of the sea and storms, received five hundred magatama from Tamanoya no mikoto, or Ame-no-Futodama-no-mikoto, the jewel-making deity. Susanoo went to heaven and presented them to his sister, the sun goddess Amaterasu, who bit off successive parts of the magatama, and blew them away to create other deities. Tamanoya no mikoto remains the kami god of magatama, glasses, and cameras. In the legend Amaterasu later shuts herself in a cave. Ama-no-Koyane-no-mikoto hung magatama, among other objects, on a five hundred-branch sakaki tree, to successfully lure Amaterasu from the cave. In the year 58, in the reign of the Emperor Suinin, the Nihon shoki records that a dog kills and disembowels a mujina, a type of badger, and a magatama was discovered in its stomach. This magatama was presented to Suinin, who enshrined it at Isonokami Shrine, where it is said to presently reside. A similar practice is described again in the Nihon shoki during the reign of the Emperor Chūai. Chūai made an inspection trip to the Tsukushi, or Kyūshū, and was presented with an enormous sakaki tree hung with magatama as well as other sacred objects.
A noted magatama is the Yasakani no Magatama (八尺瓊曲玉), also (八坂瓊曲玉), one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. Swords, mirrors, and jewels were common objects of status for regional rulers in Japan as early as the Yayoi period, and were further widespread in the Kofun period, as evidenced by their ubiquitous presence in kofun tumuli. There were originally two imperial regalia, a sword and a mirror, but the magatama was added as the third in the Heian period. The Yasakani no Magatama is stored at the Kashiko-dokoro (賢所), the central shrine at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, and is used in the enthronement ceremony of the Emperor of Japan.
Daniel Clarence Holtom stated in 1928 in Japanese enthronement ceremonies; with an account of the imperial regalia that the Yasakani no Magatama is the only one of the three regalia that exists in its original form; post-World War II scholarship supports the claim. Replicas of the sword and mirror were made early as the 9th century, and the originals were entrusted to other shrines. The mirror was repeatedly damaged by fire, but its ashes were used to create a replica. In 1185 the Taira clan attempted to dump the sword and mirror into the Straits of Shimonoseki at the end of the Battle of Dan-no-ura. The sword was lost, but the mirror was recovered by divers. Replicas of the sword and mirror are now used in the ceremony.
Gogok are jewels from the Korean peninsula that physically resemble magatama and were used in roughly the same time period. Gogok of the kingdom of Silla and magatama of the Yayoi and Kofun period show a strong connection; historical and archaeological evidence establishes strong economic and cultural ties between East Asia and Japan in this period. The usage of magatama and gogok were not exactly similar. Magatama and gogok were both used in decorative jewelry, and later for ceremonial purposes. Gogok, however, were used in large crowns, a practice not seen in the Japanese arcaeaological record to date. Japanese scholarship on the relationship between gogok and magatama suggests a variety of possibilities. Some scholars suggests that magatama originated from Japan and spread to Korea. Other Japanese scholarship suggests an ambiguous connection between the magatama of Japan and similar jewels of the Korean Peninsula, and more generally, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and region north of China. Lacking a complete archaeological picture, the relationship between gogok and magatama remains unclear.
"The magatama's origins are more controversial. These curved jewels of jadeite are common in Kofun Period burials, and they are common also in Korean sites of the same age. But magatama are found in Yayoi sites, too, and unquestionable true magatama are reported also in Jomon sites in Tohoku, Japan as early as about 1000 B.C., long before true magatama appeared in Korea." (Charles Keally)
The Encyclopædia Britannica equates magatama with gogok, but offers no supporting references. Brittannica also erroneously calls the magatama an exclusively "jade ornament".
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