Japanese

Japan in the millennium temple.

Japan in the millennium temple.

In Japan, researchers from Hiroshima University used infrared cameras to survey an ancient temple. This technique made it possible to discover previously unknown images of Buddhist saints that had been hidden from view by soot for centuries.
As reported ancient drawings scientists found on the soot-blackened columns of the main hall of the Saimoji Temple in Shiga Prefecture. It is believed that it was built in the Kamakura era (1185-1333 AD). This temple was the first in Japan to be recognized as an object of national heritage.
The researchers made the discovery using infrared cameras. Thanks to this, the secret of many centuries ago was revealed. In total, eight drawings were found hidden under the soot. Scientists believe that they depict Buddhist saints. Interestingly, the existence of the drawings scientists guessed long ago, but believed that their age is quite young.
“That’s because when you light up the columns very brightly, you can see something like the face of a bodhisattva,” explained Noriaki Ajima, a professor of art history at Hiroshima University. “We used to think that these drawings were made very recently, in the Edo period (1603-1867 AD).” The
first full-scale study was carried out by scientists only because the restoration of the temple began. The priests themselves invited the scientists. The survey of the building began in June last year. Even now, its results can be called sensational.
The fact is that the discovered paintings are tentatively dated to the second half of the Asuka period (592-710 BC). This means that they were created at least 1300 years ago. But the temple itself is considered much younger. Now his age is called into question.
“It is generally believed that the main Saimoji hall was built during the Kamakura period and was expanded during the Nambokucho period,” says Noriaki Ajima. – When I first saw the infrared photo, I was very surprised. Its quality was completely different from the images of objects belonging to the Heian era that I studied. After careful research, I came to the conclusion that the paintings belong to the Asuka era.”
Scientists also paid attention to the elements used in the images. They also suggest that the drawings may have been created around 685. This only adds to the argument that the main hall of the Saimoji temple itself may have been built much earlier than is believed. If this fact can be proved, then this temple may become the oldest preserved wooden building in the world.
And the paintings themselves will then be recognized as the oldest Japanese temple painting. Now these images are considered to be inside the Horyu-ji temple complex in Nara Prefecture, which, by the way, is still the oldest wooden building in the world.
Professor Ajima also explained that the area in Shiga Prefecture where the Saimoji Temple is located was the home of the seventh-century Inukami diplomat. In 684, he was granted a noble title by Emperor Tenmu. A year later, the emperor issued a decree on the construction of a Buddhist temple for every clan in the country.