Tokyo exhibit features ancient Iran-Japan cultural ties

January 22, 2020 - 18:35

TEHRAN – Sets of valuable historical relics from ancient Iran have been recently put on show by International Network for Japanese Art at Tokyo National Museum along with exquisite objects from the formative Asuka and Nara periods (593–794), showcasing the deep cultural ties of the two countries rooted in the historical past.

Visitors were offered a rare opportunity to view exquisite Persian relics such as the 8th-century Gigaku Mask of Suiko-o (Drunken Persian King) and the 8th-century Persian-style Lacquered Ewer together in a single exhibition hall.

The exhibit was held from October 14 to November 24, 2019, in celebration of the enthronement of the emperor Shosoin, according to the Tokyo National Museum website.

The organizers said, “As befits the inaugural year of the Imperial era “Reiwa,” this special exhibition will also provide insight into the history of Japanese culture for international audiences. The significance of these works lies not only in their status as masterpieces passed down by the Imperial Household but also in their inestimable cultural value that grows with each passing year.”

Japan has recently unveiled a rare discovery of ties between the then mighty empire of the East and people from the then Persia (now called Iran). Results of research by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on previously discovered objects reinforce the idea that at least one Persian man lived in the ancient city of Nara in the eighth century CE, IRNA reported on January 14.

Experts say that it should come as no surprise that in the 8th century, someone from Persia would end up living and working in Japan, which was located at the end of the Silk Road. The route connected Japan with countries and regions far to the west, including Persia and the Byzantine Empire.

Ancient Japanese culture incorporated a continuum of cultural influences from the south and central Asia, as well as from Persia. Many deities and demigods in the Japanese Buddhist pantheon had their origins from other parts of Asia. This statue of an Asura, dating from the 12th century, is thought to have its origins in part from a similar ancient Persian deity.


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