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4.Characters

Each of these tribes embodies the symbolism of spirituality, regeneration, and the cycle of life.

Hatis Noit and the four creature tribes hold a sacred ritual at the heart of their culture—a transformative metamorphosis that bridges the physical and spiritual realms.

The film introduces four distinct creature tribes inspired by nudibranchs, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. Each of these tribes embodies the symbolism of spirituality, regeneration, and the cycle of life.

Mythical creatures are imaginative beings that emerge from humanity's relationship with the natural world throughout history. NAOWAO's work reflects this by designing creatures that are extensions of our reality, representing alternate existing entities. These creatures visualize spiritual and natural elements, embodying cultural and symbolic meanings.

----- Hatis Noit

- Hatis Noit -

A scene from Jomon: Hatis Noit sings and natural elements dances around her

After listening to "Jomon" for the first time, NAOWAO envisioned Hatis Noit singing throughout the song in the world of Jomon, linking to the energy of other beings, creatures, and plants. The avatar of Hatis Noit in the video represents youthful energy and a pure connection with nature, with her hair and attire infused with elements from the Jomon period. The patterns, echoing those found in Jomon pottery, draw inspiration from natural elements like water, wind, and air, reflecting the lush landscapes and ritual artifacts seen throughout the film.

Her hairstyle pays homage to the Jomon people, as does the design of her back armor and the ornament around her waist, another version of Magatama, which is associated with deities and mythological events.

The patterns, echoing those found in Jomon pottery, draw inspiration from natural elements like water, wind, and air, reflecting the lush landscapes and ritual artifacts seen throughout the film.

A scene from Jomon: Hatis Noit

The garment was executed in collaboration with SGI Creator and Maaike Van Den Abbeele. The antennas on Hatis Noit’s forehead connect her to an otherworldly existence, mirroring the creatures seen in other scenes, coiling and swirling to create similar organic shapes. Her garment design blends elements of the divine with those of a commoner, inspired by the Jomon patterns and the four tribal creatures. The embroidered elements narrate the mythical world of this Jomon video.

A scene from Jomon: Her garment pattern is the story of Jomon

----- The Sea Chromo

- The Sea Chromo Tribe -

A scene from Jomon: The Sea Chromo tribe drinks the potion made from their surroundings

The Sea Chromo tribe, reminiscent of a vibrant nudibranch, symbolizes the celebration of life for all living beings through their non-gendered reproductive system. 

The Sacred Offerings

To enhance their physical forms and deepen their connection to the divine, the Sea Chromo tribe consumes sacred offerings crafted from natural beings. This act symbolizes their profound reverence for the natural world and their desire to transcend physical and ethereal boundaries.

The Sea Chromo tribe’s consumption of sacred offerings crafted from natural elements is akin to the practices of Native American tribes such as the Navajo and Hopi, who use sacred plants and herbs for spiritual ceremonies. Similarly, Amazonian people use the Ayahuasca ritual, a sacred brew derived from the Quechuan words "aya" (spirit or dead) and "huasca" (vine or rope), meaning "vine of spirits" or "vine of the dead," another link to the main theme of this world. 

By partaking in this sacred ritual and consuming natural offerings, the Sea Chromo tribe seeks to enhance their physical forms and deepen their bond with the divine.

This act symbolizes their profound reverence for the natural world and their desire to transcend physical and ethereal boundaries.

Scene from Jomon: A potion made for the ceremony

The Sacred Masks

Masks represent the connection between the visible world we live in and the invisible spiritual realm. Masks serve as a bridge between these two dimensions, allowing the unseen to become seen.

In Indonesia, mask dancers don intricately carved masks crafted from sacred trees. These masks are revered as sacred objects, paying homage to ancient practices found in places like Ubud, Bali. By wearing these masks, the dancers become conduits for spiritual beings during their performances. Similarly, through their sacred ritual, the Sea Chromo Tribes undergo a profound metamorphosis, embracing their deep connection to the spiritual realm and the natural world around them.

The patterns on the mask echo those found in Jomon pottery, drawing inspiration from natural elements like water, wind, and air. This reflects the lush landscapes and ritual artifacts associated with the Jomon culture.

Final render of the Sea Chromo Tribe wearing a mask

By wearing these masks, the dancers become conduits for spiritual beings during their performances. 

A scene from Jomon: The mask and body started to transform while the tribe consumed the potion

A scene from Jomon: The Sea Chromo tribe dancing to the drum and music

----- The Frogolotls

- The Frogolotls Tribe -

A scene from Jomon: The Frogolotls Tribe eating eachother's limbs for the ritual

The Frogolotls tribe, a fusion of axolotls and frogs, embodies metamorphosis and reproduction, beautifully captured in their ceremonial dance that resonates with the cycle of life and death. Choreographer and performer Sung-Im Her created a choreography that connected the spirits of the creatures and the music. Through Sung Im’s movements, their ceremony came to life.

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K, Kyosai. Frogs Dancing. [Painting]. Japaaan Magazine.

During a ritual dance, they consume each other's limbs, undergoing a metamorphosis to reconnect with the spirit world. 

Regeneration

The tribe of frog-axolotl hybrids symbolizes the cycle of life, death, and regeneration. During a ritual dance, they consume each other's limbs, undergoing a metamorphosis to reconnect with the spirit world. Axolotls, known as "Mexican walking fish," are fitting totems for this myth. These unique amphibians can eat and regrow their limbs, making them powerful symbols of regeneration in Aztec culture. The frog is also an apt metaphor, undergoing its own dramatic transformation from tadpole to adult. Frog imagery has been found in the ancient pottery designs of Japan's Jomon period. By combining these two amphibians, this tribe represents the endless cycle of life, death, and rebirth that governs the natural world and the spirit realm. 

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C, Mccusker. Axolotls Limb Form. 2015. [Diagram]. The Axolotl Limb Blastema.

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K, Kyosai. Tadpole. [Sketch/Photograph]. Sarashina Do Newpaper.

A scene from Jomon: The Frogolotls Tribe eating eachother's limbs for the ritual

The Dance Ritual

In many cultures, dance has been a key ritual practice for achieving altered states of consciousness, communicating with the divine, and expressing spiritual beliefs through the body.

From the moment the Frogolotls tribe awakens with Hatis Noit's voice, they form a dance ritual throughout the video to enter a trance state and traverse through time. Sung-Im Her, an accomplished performer and choreographer based in London, Seoul, and Belgium, created this tribe's dance movement with the concept of the cycle of life and death.

Screen shot from Sung-Im's choreography video

NAOWAO adapted Sung-Im's choreography to fit the scene's timeline. Although several dance moves had to be omitted due to the limited scene duration, the final choreography was an excellent match for the emotional arc of the song.

Scene from Jomon: Sung-Im's choreography translated into Frogolotls' body

----- The Teno

- The Teno Tribe -

Scene from Jomon: The Teno Tribe resonating with the plant

Hatis Noit's personal experience of a mantis landing on her reinforced the insect's symbolic resonance. 

The Teno, a magical praying mantis, pays homage to a special moment of inspiration when a mantis danced on Hatis Noit’s arm during her performance in Portugal.

Tiny Powerful Beings

Hatis Noit's personal experience of a mantis landing on her reinforced the insect's symbolic resonance. In some African cultures, the mantis is seen as an embodiment of ancestral presence, adding another layer of spiritual connection between this world and the other.

NAOWAO wanted to keep the form of the mantis close to reality while combining the swirling forms from Jomon pottery. The alien-like Teno tribe interacting with Hatis Noit and the surrounding plants represents the coexistence of tiny living beings with powerful natural energies. 

A scene from Jomon: The Teno tribe is undergoing metamorphosis, and swirling patterns are emerging on their bodies and wings

A scene from Jomon: The Teno tribe dancing on Hatis' hand

----- The Sea Dragon

- The Sea Dragon Tribe -

A scene from Jomon: The Sea Dragon tribe waking up

The Snake Dragon tribe transforms from snakes into majestic dragons, symbolizing metamorphosis, transformation, and the life cycle. 

Mating Snake

The snake is a common motif in Jomon pottery, symbolizing regeneration through its rope-like shape and swirling patterns. This ancient Japanese art form reflects a spiritual connection to the snake, which is a potent symbol of rebirth and eternity in many cultures worldwide. Yoshinori Yasuda, an environmental archaeologist, was the first to propose that the Jomon rope pattern represents the mating of snakes.

A scene from Jomon: The Sea Dragon tribe mating

The snake is a common motif in Jomon pottery, symbolizing regeneration through its rope-like shape and swirling patterns.

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T, Manabu. Shinto Shrine. [Photography]. "Shimenawa": The Sacred Rope.

Sacred Vessel

Vessels have long held sacred significance across diverse societies. In Taiwan, indigenous mountain tribes decorate ancient Tsukubai jars, which are believed to house the souls of ancestors who descend from the heavens a few times each year. Similarly, African communities imbued ceramic vessels used in burial rites with spiritual power, seeing them as containers for souls, life energy, and healing. The sacred vessels depicted in the scenes of The Sea Dragon tribe and The Sea Chromo tribe continue this tradition of honoring the divine through pottery.

A scene from Jomon: The Sea Dragon tribe and the vessel

Mystical creature

The Eastern dragon is said to be composed of nine different animal parts, representing the origin of all creatures. It is believed that, after a long period, a snake can transform into a dragon. The most powerful dragons are thought to control the weather, wind, thunder, and water. This mystical connection to the forces of nature is seen as a sacred power integral to the spiritual realm. The dragon's dominion over the elements is considered a wholesome, all-encompassing existence.

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Kuniyoshi. Ryugu Tamatori Hime. [Illustration]. Yamada Shoten.

This mystical connection to the forces of nature is seen as a sacred power integral to the spiritual realm. The dragon's dominion over the elements is considered a wholesome, all-encompassing existence.

A scene from Jomon: The Sea Dragon tribe transforms into a dragon figure

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