This Perfectly Preserved Ritual Mask Used 1,800 Years Ago Was Found Among Ruins In Japan

The mask dates back to the Yayoi period between 300 B.C. C. and 300 d. C., a turbulent time in which Japanese society turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture.

Osaka Center for Cultural HeritageThe mask is so heavy that it may have only been displayed during ceremonies rather than worn.

During preparatory excavations for the Osaka Monorail extension in Japan, archaeologists found a number of astonishingly well-preserved wooden objects. Of these, the most notable is an 1,800-year-old mask that was likely used in ancient rituals.

According to the Osaka Cultural Heritage Center, the mask is made of cedar and resembles a human face, with two holes for the eyes and one for the mouth. It measures 11 inches long and seven inches wide, with a perforation in the side that may have once held a string to tie the mask in place.

But it is not clear if the mask was actually used by ancient people during their rituals. It is so heavy that it may have been displayed in its place, according to The Asahi Shimbunand may have represented a deity.

1800 year old Japan wooden mask

Osaka Center for Cultural HeritageThe mask has a small hole in the side that may have been used to attach a rope.

“I think the mask represented a ‘head spirit’, which was believed to be a god in human form and represented the authority of Okimi,” Kaoru Terasawa, director of the Makimukugaku Research Center, Sakurai City, Sakurai Prefecture. Nara, he pointed.

As daily heritage explains, the Okimi once led the reign of the Yamato, a group of powerful clans in present-day Nara Prefecture that reigned from the 3rd century to the 7th century. Terasawa believes that their ceremonies likely inspired local leaders to use the mask in their rituals.

“I imagine that powerful people who were influenced by the ceremonies of Yamato’s reign used the mask at festivals,” Terasawa said.

Masks like these apparently played an important role in ancient Japan. As daily heritage Notes, Two other similar wooden masks from the same period have been found before. The most recent discovery closely resembles a mask discovered among the ruins of Makimuku in Nara Prefecture.

But the 1,800-year-old mask isn’t the only ancient wooden object archaeologists uncovered while conducting excavations in preparation for the monorail extension. Alongside the ritual mask, archaeologists also discovered a wooden water bucket and a second charred wooden object resembling a garden hoe 9.5 feet below the surface.

Ancient wooden artifacts from Japan

Osaka Center for Cultural HeritageIn addition to the mask, the archaeologists also discovered a wooden bucket and a charred wooden object that appears to be a hoe.

Each of the three objects is a fascinating look at the Yayoi period, which spanned from 300 B.C. C. until 300 d. C. This very significant period in Japanese history saw the proliferation of wet rice cultivation, which in turn led to a more agrarian society. Then people began to live together in permanent communities.

Although this transition from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society may have made life easier for many people, it also introduced new concepts of social class and power dynamics. Kyoto National Museum reports that people increasingly clashed over ownership of water and land (as evidenced by the discovery of bodies from this period with shields or with clear battle wounds) and certain people came to wield great power.

While hunter-gatherers were more or less the same, agrarian societies set the stage for different kinds of social strata. Small chiefdoms arose that were made up of a ruler and his family, an upper class and poor people, who deeply respected and adored their leaders. Often, the Kyoto National Museum notes, poor people would throw themselves to the ground when the most powerful members of society passed by.

It is unclear what role the wooden mask played in these new social dynamics, although researchers hypothesize that it was meant to represent a god and the upper levels of society. It will be temporarily on display at the Yayoi Culture Museum in Izumi, Osaka Prefecture.

After reading about the 1,800-year-old wooden mask discovered in Japan, learn about the impressive 3,000-year-old mask. golden mask that archaeologists discovered in china, who may have played a role in a secret society. Or marvel at this intricately detailed 1,800-year-old iron. face mask once worn by a soldier from the roman calvary in Adrianople.

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