East Asia

Chinese theater mask

female character
female character

Q:  I bought at a flee market.The material is carved wood, lacquered, and about 20 cm high.  Enrico, 809

A: This is a mask for the Chen He theater of the Hu Nan district in China.  In the Ming dynasty, immigrants from Jiang Xi settled in the then barren land along the river of Chen He.  Mixing in the local dialect and culture, the theater was born sometime between 1368–1644 BC. Today we still find copies of various characters in these ancient plays being offered for sale. Some of them look a lot like Japanese Noh characters. Whether any of them are used for performance I do not know and I doubt if any are really old. Carved wood masks are often antiqued to make them more appealing to collectors.  B

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