East Asia

Noh mask from Japan


A book called Japanese Noh Masks shows almost 300 different characters from the Noh plays. This one is called Imawaka. The workmanship is fabulous. It is new and could be used by an actor, collector or decorator. Here is a short piece written by Stella Ko, of CNN…

Their almond-shaped eyes stare blankly into space. The ambivalent corners of their mouths leave their moods utterly indiscernible.These wooden masks, used in an ancient form of Japanese theater called Noh, were made to be expressionless. But performers are charged with using slight and subtle movements to reveal the hidden emotions carved into each one.
Dating back almost 1,000 years, Noh is a style of musical drama with plots ranging from Japanese legends to modern-day events. Its masks, carved from blocks of cypress, are a key part of the tradition, representing figures like demons and monks. Actors are able to portray their characters’ feelings by changing the angle and orientation of their heads.
With roots going back to the 12th century, Noh developed from ancient ceremonial dramas performed at shrines and temples. But, like many traditional performing arts, Noh is struggling to attract interest in modern Japan.

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