KASHIHARA, Nara Pref. (Kyodo) A terra cotta figurine unearthed from a late fourth-century tomb in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, is thought to be the oldest “haniwa” found yet, according to the local authority.

The figurine, which is holding a shield and appears to be smiling, was apparently meant to guard the Chihara Ohaka tomb, the Sakurai board of education said Thursday.

The earliest haniwa in human form had until now been dated to the first half of the fifth century, but the Sakurai figurine beats the record by several decades, the board said.

The figurine was found in fragments, and after restoration measures 67 cm tall and 50 cm wide.

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