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Wooden bodhisattva mask
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THE MUSEUM CONTAINS numerous masks from various parts of the world, many of which were made for use in religious ceremonies. This lacquered and gilded wooden mask from Japan is over 700 years old. It represents a Buddhist bodhisattva and would have been worn during a gyodo ceremony. This was an outdoor procession of Buddhist priests wearing masks, led by dancers carrying a shishi (lion) mask to exorcise the route.

Often these processions were part of the inauguration of a new temple or a dedication. The masks represent specific Buddhist figures including guardian deities, dragon gods and bodhisattvas. Bodhisattva masks are particularly associated with the raigo forms of these ceremonies.

Wooden bodhisattva mask

From Japan, Kamakura period, 13h century AD Ht23cm
Gift of Lady Francis Oppenheimer

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