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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
Haniwa Warrior
Late 6th century
Red earthenware

27 x 14 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Agnes Cullen Arnold Endowment Fund and the McAshan Educational and Charitable Trust

Arts of Asia

Haniwa sculptures of military and civilian figures were often assembled around burial mounds by the end of the 6th century in Japan. These figures were made of unglazed terra cotta and were believed to serve the deceased in the afterlife.

This Haniwa Warrior is shown reaching for his sword. The geometric simplicity of the figure’s taut pose alludes to the rigid, military system of discipline that governed Japanese society during the Kofun period (AD 300–645). His face is covered with red paint.  The same pigment also appears on his armor. This color was meant to protect the clay figure from coming into contact with the spirit of the deceased. The warrior has hollow eyes and is simply constructed because haniwa figures needed to be completed quickly and were usually manufactured in bulk.