A group of Japanese archaeologists has discovered a fragment of a ceremonial wooden mask which is thought to be the most ancient of its kind in Japan’s entire history.
The mask made of wood, which dates since the second century, was excavated from ancient ruins in Sakurai City in the prefecture of Nara, according to the team of archaeologists.
The mask fragment has the shape of a human face and is 9 inches long by about 3 inches wide. The artifact was discovered together with wooden armors and bronze products during the excavation work, researchers said.
“Since we can recognize an ‘eye’, a part of a ‘mouth’ and two small holes which are gouged out part of the wooden board, 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,” Teruhiko Hashimoto, chief researcher at Sakurai City’s cultural assets division, said, according to the international press.
Other wooden masks were previously found in Sakuray city, but this mask was made tens of years earlier than the other one, Hashimoto said.
“We will continue further investigations into which kind of people wore the mask in the ancient times,” he added.