East Asia

Large, long-nosed Tengu mask

Q: This large mask is Ht 19″; Depth back to nose tip 17″; and Width 12″. Clear & blue glass inserts. Appears to be wood or hard surface with top layer of cloth or paper or bark. Holes at bottom of nose and eyes. Bought 10 years ago from airline attendant. Do not remember what I paid for it. She got it during her South Pacific travels. Mindi, 1784

A: The Tengu mask is seen with a red face and an unusually large or long nose. Early depictions of Tengu in Japan show them as kite-like beings who can take a human-like form, often retaining wings, head or beak. The long nose seems to have been conceived in the 14th century, likely as a humanization of the original bird’s bill.

You might want to look at “Japanese mask with long nose, September 28, 2018” on this site for more info. Tengus can be found on the walls of Japanese homes and public places, or worn in holiday parades. Don’t know how yours was used, but it seems to have some age. I’m going to guess it should get an A.

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