Magatama (勾玉 or 曲玉), are curved beads which first appeared in Japan during the Jomon-era. They are often found inhumed in mounded tumulus graves as offerings to deities. They continued to be popular with the ruling elites throughout the Kofun-era of Japan, and are often romanticised as indicative of the Yamato Dynasty of Japan. They are mainly made of jade, agate, quartz, talc, and jasper. Some consider them to be an Imperial symbol, although in fact ownership was widespread throughout all the chieftainships of Kofun Period Japan. It is believed that magatama were popularly worn as jewels for decoration, in addition to their religious meanings. In this latter regard they were later largely replaced by Buddhist prayer beads in the Nara-era.
In modern Japan, the magatama's shape of a sphere with a flowing tail is a common visual representation of the human spirit (hitodama).