Q: This is a very large paper mache mask. It is Japanese and comes from the Shinshu region. Size is 52cm W x 66cm H. There is a collection of 12 – one for each month. The one I have is July. I bought it close to 30 years ago. Apparently they were to protect people when traveling. The Japanese name is 道神面 (road/god/mask). There are also smaller masks in wood, with the same designs. I have searched on the net to see if they are still sold, however, I have been unable to find any – only books in Japanese about the artist and his works.
Here is a site showing some of the masks:
A: The above link shows the small and the large versions. But how would the large version be used? It’s certainly not meant to be worn. The Japanese use masks many different ways– ceremonies, parades, theater performances, good luck, decoration and souvenirs. They are also a very common gift item, which would be unusual anywhere else in the world.