Ancient wood strips from Japanese temple dated to 7th century

Archaeologists found 8 ancient strips of wood adorned with kanji characters among treasures dedicated to the imperial family by Horyuji temple in Nara Prefecture in 1878. They form one of the oldest objects kept by temples, shrines or other facilities, in Japan.

The front and the reverse of the wooden strips (by Asahi Shimbun)
The front and the reverse of the wooden strips (by Asahi Shimbun)

The evidence shows that some of the relics date to the Asuka period of the seventh century, according to the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Tokyo National Museum. One of the sticks, measures 30.2 centimetres in length, 2.7 cm in width and is 5 millimetres thick. It contains characters, dated back to the seventh century, recording a transaction. The pieces of wood were apparently reused at Buddhist rituals as frames for banners. The items are scheduled to be exhibited at Room 6 of the Gallery of Horyuji Treasures at the Tokyo National Museum from Aug. 23 to Sept. 19.

(after Asahi Shimbun)

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