This wood-carving bears details painted in black.

A variety of masks, both naturalistic and grotesque, were produced in Japan from the Tempyo period onwards, for the purpose of dance, drama, and religious ritual. This example is of a type made for use in the ceremonies of the Gyodo ritual, when prominent Buddhist deities were paraded in procession. Their sculptural and surface treatment compares closely in style with that of the major wooden statuary produced for worship in the temples, and they are probably the work of the same hands. The noble dignity and calm compassion expressed by the mask embody the highest traditions of the great age of Japanese sculpture, ranking it a major work of art.


Ralph Nash Esq.

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