• East Asia

    Angry old Japanese man

    This is an authentic Noh theater mask. Though I can tell this character is an angry old man, I don’t know his name. Nor do I know the name of the play, or when it was made and by what carver. Real Noh masks are very well carved and usually have a lot of personality. When I saw this one I could not resist sharing it with my viewers. If you know more about it, please comment.

  • East Asia

    Chinese Nuo mask from Hunan

    Q: I don’t know a lot about the mask.. I’m a care giver and when I was first starting out about 8 years ago we had a lady that was there due to cancer.. she was a traveling artist and bought a mask from every place she traveled..when she past away our boss said she wanted everyone to choose a mask from her wall..for some reason this mask always caught my eye and when I saw no one was choosing it I knew i wanted it and was so happy it was still there..now I’m just wondering more about it. Melissa, 1546 A: Serious collectors of masks should skip this.…

  • East Asia

    Japanese Namahage mask

    These are widely used in many parts of Japan on New Years Day, making them one of the most popular masks you can buy. They are quickly carved and reasonably priced so everyone can afford them. But you won’t often see them in books, museums or important collections because they’re for the common people. That may change. This terrifying demon-like deity has just made the United Nations’ Intangible Cultural Heritage list. During the holiday, wearing ogre masks and wielding huge knives, Namahage go from house to house shouting “are there are any crying or badly behaving children?” Invariably, the answer is yes and often the tears start before they even…

  • East Asia

    Japanese Noh theater monkey mask

    This famous monkey mask, often called Saru from the Noh theater, was made during the Showa period between 1926-1989. Even though it looks brand new, it’s probably 50 years old. The following maybe more than you want to know… A collective name for Noh and kyōgen used until the start of the Meiji era. Sarugaku derives from sangaku, which came to Japan from the Tang Dynasty during the Nara era and was combined with ancient Japanese comedies. Sarugaku flourished during the Heian and Kamakura eras, and was at the time strongly comedic and broad based, including skits, acrobatics and magic. In the middle of the Kamakura era Sarugaku split into…

  • East Asia

    Exorcising mask from Guizhou, PRC

    Q: I’ve long been interested in the nature, age and quality of this Chinese carved wooden face mask with articulating eye openings and movable jaw. It’s about life size 29 x 17cm. Thanks for your consideration. Arthur, 1514 A: Thank you for waiting so long for my reply. Your mask has a very interesting look to it with the two heads on the side, its eyes and jaw, and lack of paint. Probably authentic in the sense that tourists and exporters would want nothing to do with it. Can’t find anything similar in my research. Guizhou Province is a guess. China is the largest and one of the oldest countries…

  • East Asia

    Maiden mask from Korea

    Q: I know you don’t choose more than a mask per person, but I have some doubt on this concubine Korean mask. It’s made of light wood and if you look at it from the front it seems to be old. She seems to have also a scar on her face maybe made to strengthen stage lights. But the rear makes me wonder. It looks new and has a red print. Could you please tell me something about it? Monica, 1509 A: Your mask is old and probably used briefly. It has been broken in half which will lower its value only a bit. Try to get a translation of…

  • East Asia

    Japanese Noh mask

    There are over 200 characters portrayed in the many Noh plays of Japan. This one could possibly be Ayakashi the supernatural man or Heida the warrior… maybe someone else. Regardless, it’s a very nice mask. All of the eyes in Noh masks 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, 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…

  • East Asia,  India & Himalayas

    Old mask from India or Thailand?

    Q:  This mask has just been restored. It had suffered serious damage in storage. I would be interested to know its origin and its age. The conservator believes it is probably 17/18th century from Thailand, repainted red in the 19th century to bring it “up to date” with the craze for Indian artifacts at that time.   John,  1478 A:  The restoration expert did a good job and could be right about age and location. Please tell me who she/he is. Occasionally I’m asked for a recommendation. The mask is Hindu, but I can’t name the character or god. Also, it may be from India or Nepal… and the age is…

  • East Asia

    Korean traditional character mask

    Q:  The mask is roughly 28 by 20 cm. It is wooden and has a black cloth covering and ties at the back. I think it is of Korean origin, but unsure if it’s an  artistic/religious mask or if it depicts a particular character.   Maddie,  1477 A:  Sorry to take so long. I’ve had some problems that took a week to fix. Your red mask is one of the characters in the Yangju Pyeolsandae Nori, the most popular folk dance in all of Korea. There are over 20 other actors in the dance. Many Korean masks are designated as national cultural properties. Yours is no exception and would have been…

  • 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…