Second-century ritual mask uncovered among warrior artifacts in the ruins of Daifuku Remains in Sakurai City, Nara

A wooden mask fragment, left, unearthed from the Daifuku archaeological site, is shown in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. On the right is an artist's rendition of the mask as it would have appeared whole Credit: Toshiyuki Hayashi

A wooden mask fragment, left, unearthed from the Daifuku archaeological site, is shown in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. On the right is an artist’s rendition of the mask as it would have appeared whole Credit: Toshiyuki Hayashi

Ceremonial mask may be oldest ever discovered in Japan
Japanese archaeologists believe they have uncovered a fragment of an ancient wooden ceremonial mask, the oldest to be discovered in the country. The object resembles a face, dates to the late second century and was found with wooden armor and bronze artifacts in the ruins of Daifuku Remains in Sakurai City. “We think the wooden object was used as a mask by an influential group of residents around the area to arrange a religious or solemn ceremony to show performed actions with the item,” said chief researcher Teruhiko Hashimoto of Sakurai City’s division of cultural assets. United Press International (May 31, 2013)

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NHK World May 30, 2013:  Japan’s oldest known wooden mask found
Japanese archaeologists have found the country’s oldest known wooden mask, believed to date back more than 1,800 years.

The team, from a municipal education board, unearthed the find at the Daifuku ruins in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture, in western Japan.

The mask is a little over 23 centimeters long and 7 centimeters wide. It appears to be split in half lengthwise. If complete, the object would be about 16 centimeters wide.

The visage is made from a conifer called Japanese umbrella pine. It has 2 holes, one for an eye and the other for the mouth, and another small hole measuring 2 millimeters in diameter near where the ear would be.

The archeologists speculate that the hole was used to put the mask on with a piece of string. Pottery unearthed alongside the mask suggests the face-shaped object dates from the latter half of the 2nd century.

Another wooden mask dating back to the early 3rd century was discovered in 2007 at the Makimuku ruins in the same city. The ruins are said to be one of the sites where the ancient Yamatai Kingdom was situated. The archeologists say the latest find is dozens of years older than the one from Makimuku.

Keiji Niwa, who is a member of the education board, says his team believes the masks were used at religious ceremonies.

May 30, 2013
NHK world news

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2 responses to “Second-century ritual mask uncovered among warrior artifacts in the ruins of Daifuku Remains in Sakurai City, Nara

  1. I refer you to an sensational article by prof. Chudinov, Russia, on the wooden mask, http://chudinov.ru/posledam/

    • Thank you for the link. Death masks of ritual (demon-chasing or exorcism http://japandailypress.com/japans-oldest-known-wooden-mask-unearthed-points-to-early-inter-cultural-exchange-with-china-3129865 ) as well as funerary masks have been found continuously from Jomon times (mostly clay), Yayoi and Kofun through to Nara times (wooden masks) in Japan, just as it was common in the prehistoric cultures of Hungary, Central Asia (Tarim mummies for eg), Yenissey, and others, although they likely represented deities such as the Iranian / Tibetan Lord Yama of death, deities common to Indo-Saka-Parthians, Tibetans or Ymai /Umay / Umai, Womb-Earth-Mother goddess of fertility and regeneration, who was common to the Altaians, Turks and Mongols, OR later, the Indian-Tibetan Mara the Mara demon of death conquered by Buddha, who was also well known in Japan. The professor makes the extraordinary and somewhat big leap of logic to say that the mask is proof that “Japan was part of the Russian Yara”. Historically, we know from the Shosoin repository that missions were sent from Nara to Tang dynasty China to the city of Changan (see Nestorian Christianity in the Tang Dynasty. Out of the melting pot of foreigners in the city of Changan, the Japanese delegates returned with many gifts and collectibles, for the Japanese court which was hungry for exotic foreign products from China, as well as Chinese items, many of these are seen in the Shosoin repository. It would not be surprising either, if this mask indeed came from Russia. More likely than the professor’s farfetched theory that Japan belonged to Russia, is that the mask, was perhaps a gift, or an article of faith of a Nestorian convert, that came via the Silk Route in the manner with all the other masks and Silk Route treasures that are displayed or stored in the Shosoin repository in Nara. It is possible that the mask is as the professor says a religious item of the church, for it is fairly well documented that the Nestorian Christians were in much of Caucasus, Eurasia and Central Asia a few centuries before and through the time of the Nara Period. In 431 CE the Council of Ephesus declared Nestorianism to be a heresy. The Nestorians, who were persecuted in the Byzantine Empire, sought refuge in Mesopotamia, then part of the Sassanid Empire, From there they spread Christianity to Persia, India, China, and Mongolia. This was the beginning of the Nestorian Church, the eastern branch of Syrian Christianity. According to the Christian community in Japan, as well as the Nestorian.org, “American Reverend Ken Joseph told a gathering here on March 16 that Christianity first came to the Far East roughly 1,800 years ago along the “Silk Road,” passing through China to Nara, central Japan. /Evidence of this, Reverend Joseph said, was a copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew in old Chinese script, dating back to the ninth century, found inside the Koryuji Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, near Nara. / This temple is cited by at least one historian as having been built about 818 atop a Christian building erected in 603 that was destroyed by fire. / “Many Buddhist temples were built on top of old, burned down Christian churches left in ruins. Diligent research today can still uncover these lost relics,” Reverend Joseph said. / Researcher M.L. Young says that one of the most sacred objects of the Nishi Honganji Buddhist Temple, founded by Kobo Daishi in 806 after his contact with a Nestorian Christian monastery in Beijing, is “the Lord of the Universe’s Discourse on Almsgiving,” a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount and other Matthean passages. / Christianity was referred to as the “luminous religion” in Chinese records referring to Nestorian missioners. … Christianity was referred to as the “luminous religion” in Chinese records referring to Nestorian missioners. / Reverend Joseph presented slides of several artifacts and statues that once had Christian crosses carved into them, but which had subsequently been erased or modified by Buddhist followers, he alleged. / Nestorian Christianity dates back to the first century of the Christian era. Japanese researchers say that the first bearers of Christianity to Japan were the people from the (Nestorian) Assyrian Church of the East who came to Japan from the Silk Road cities of Mesopotamia, and Persia starting around the fifth century onwards. /”Christianity was much more widespread than believed,” Hollingsworth said. This is just one theory, but an elaborate one of active Nestorianism in action in Nara, see Syrian Nestorianism in Japan and although it is tantalizing to contemplate that the luminous religion had had a foothold (given Amaterasu’s prominence, whose name may be translated as the Luminous Mother) eventually Taoism was to hold sway. We should also be aware of the popular theory that the Christian Madonna Mother of Immaculate Conception is itself a mystery religion and code for the all the earlier forms of either the Celestial Virgin or the Earth Womb Mother deities that came before, see Isis-maria-Sophia secret Magdalene theory http://www.thesecretmagdalene.com/mariamne.html. see also the furtive disguised Mary that underground Christians had, in the form of the Koyasu Kannon http://blog.alientimes.org/2013/05/last-chance-to-see-the-small-yet-haunting-exhibition-artifacts-related-to-christianity-jesuit-missionaries-and-belief-under-prohibition-at-the-national-museum-in-ueno-ends-may-6th/130504_1530/ this is one that was confiscated by the Nagasaki Magistrate Court

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