East Asia

Rare old Chinese Nuo mask

Nuo theater general
Nuo theater general

This mask from the Maonan people of Guangxi Province in Southeaster China is carved wood 10.5 inches high and is middle to late 20th century. There are many unique aspects to this portrayal of a senior military general in the Nuo theater. Some of the wood surface has been left unpainted and there is a carefully carved figure on the headdress. And look at those wide open eyes!  757  The Maonans are farmers who grow millet and buckwheat and have a population of some 107,000, most of whom live in Guangxi Autonomous Region. In the 1964 census, there were 183 ethnic groups registered, among which only 54 are recognized. Assimilation into modern society is encouraged by the government. That, and a growing interest in Chinese folk art, is causing used masks like this to become harder to find. As the economy and quality of life improves in China these kinds of masks may become even more scarce. You can see other Nuo masks, including this particular one, in the new book, Masks of the World, by Robert Ibold with Troy Yohn.

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