Jomon, meaning “cord-marked,” refers to the impressions left from rolling braided or twisted ropes across the surface of moist clay vessels in the Neolithic period in Japan, which is thus known as the Jomon period. At its height, this hunting and fishing culture developed a rich visual vocabulary to embellish its ceramic utensils. Early Jomon-period cooking vessels were plain, but over time a range of distinctive cord-marked and incised decorations and pinched, curvilinear rims were added. The mysterious masks, surging peaks, and undulating coils that decorate this jar are characteristic of the exhuberant ornamentation of Middle Jomon-period ceramics. A decorated vessel such as this was probably not made for daily use but for preparing food at special religious ceremonies.