• East Asia,  Protection

    Samurai metal face mask

    Solid metal masks were used by the samurais to protect their face in combat. Along with a large helmet and armor over all of his body, the warrior was well protected. A colorful and rather frightening appearance was also important. The superb set of full-body armor from the 18th century is the second photo. Its facial armor is not the same as the close-up. I will categories this mask in both the East Asia and Protection categories. Beautiful work! Japanese folk art, from masks to clay pots, has always been the best in the world… in my humble opinion.

  • East Asia

    Korean masks

    In the Republic of Korea, you can watch a traditional masked dance called Cheoyongmu, which features a cast of characters who each wear a different type of mask. The masks come with black cloth attached to the sides of the mask designed to cover the back of the head and also to simulate black hair. They are used for dances, and are sold to collectors and tourists. There are two ways to categorize masks: religious masks and artistic masks. Religious masks were often used to ward off evil spirits and the artistic masks are mostly used in dances and theater shows. Masks which are use for dance in Korea come…

  • East Asia

    Old khon mask

    Q:  I’ve just found this mask. It looks like a khon mask but from where? Burma or India? Have you some idea about this?  Eric, 1314 A:  I’ve never seen a kohn mask from either Burma or India, so I assume it is an old example from Thailand. Sometimes they are danced, but they are also displayed in holy places. Life sized, it is made from layers of papier-mache and plaster.  Gold leaf and colored glass and jewels are applied along with some paint. Because of its age I think you should do more research. This might be of interest to serious collectors.  A

  • East Asia

    Japanese mask festival

    The little Goryo Shrine in Kamakura puts on a small but unique festival where the participants wear masks which are over two centuries old. The festival is held in honor of the enshrined spirit of Kamakura Kagemasa, a famed samurai warrior of the 11th Century popularly known as Gongoro. You will love this video on YouTube. Many different kinds of masks are paraded. I think the one here is an old mask called Menkake Gyoretsu. Enjoy.

  • East Asia

    Japanese Kyogen mask

    Here’s a Japanese carved wood mask that comes from the Asian Ethnographic Collection at the American Museum of Natural History. I especially like it because the design is strong while the colors are weak. Kyogen is the comic interlude between the serious dramas of Noh theater. Kyogen characters are homespun and funny. Japanese people love to display these masks in their homes and give them as gifts. This one is old and belongs in a museum.

  • East Asia

    Popular Japanese mask

    Q:  I just purchased a gorgeous Noh theater mask of what I assume to be a Hannya character. I was hoping I could get more information, an appraisal, etc. Give me a response and I’ll send you guys some photos.  Cameron, 1290 A:  I must charge for appraisals, however I usually include a letter grade that suggests value… and it is free. Your brand new Noh mask may not be the famous she devil. I’ve also posted another mask that looks more like her. There are several other characters that resemble Hannya. I couldn’t find one with black skin and white hair in my book. You could do a Google…

  • East Asia

    Noh masks can change expression

    Since we have just seen Blake’s Noh maiden, I found this pic on Wikipedia. It shows a mask straight on, slightly tilted, and then tilted more. This is just another example of what makes these masks so extraordinary. The performer (always a man) can change the character’s expression by simple tilting his head. This photo is hi-res so you can enlarge it. There is much more about Noh masks in the Wikipedia story. Bob

  • East Asia

    Woman character in Noh theater

    Q:  It appears to be a traditional Noh Mask, although I am not sure if its authentic or a reproduction. The glossy back inside of the mask throws me off. Would it be worth appraising?  Thanks!   Blake, 1282 A:  This type of female mask is almost as popular as the she-devil known as Hannya. The craftsmanship that goes into Japanese masks for the theater is arguably the most advanced in the world. The best ones are carefully carved out of wood, then painted and sanded many times. This one is a very careful reproduction made out of a strong, molded material. The Japanese hang these in their homes and give…

  • East Asia

    Old Noh theater mask

    Q:  I  have and old Japanese mask but know nothing about it. Thanks!  Oliver, 1262 A:  I assume it is an old temple mask– something a monk has made for sale to faithful visitors to the temple. Or it could be an old man for a Noh play. I asked Oliver to send me some higher res scans and will post them when they come. Then I can make a few more comments.

  • East Asia

    Old Man mask of Japanese Noh theater

    Q:  I have an old wooden Japanese mask and would like it identified and dated. Can you help? I have not found another in my research on Google.   Ian, 1257 A:  Many of the Noh plays feature one or more old men in the cast. Identifying your particular old man will be difficult. I think it is from the the first half of the 20th century. The quality of the carving suggests it sold for a lower price. Perhaps you can find someone fluent in Japanese to translate that old label. What the label says might raise or lower the value a little.  A-