East Asia,  Misc

Japan uses the most masks

The picture shows a finely made, possibly very old, Japanese character mask. It could be Waka Otoko or Hatachi Amari from the Noh theater, or even a older Bugaku masks. I just don’t know. There so many masks, some of which go way back in history. There are more old masks in Japanese collections than anywhere.

But there’s more. The Japanese use masks a lot. Usage includes Noh theater, village plays, temple performances, parades, celebrations, export, souvenirs for tourists, gifts, home decoration and sword fighting. No wonder collecting Japanese masks is so popular. On pages 54-56 of Masks of the World by Ibold and Yohn there are 24 shown and described. Of course there are books devoted to Japanese masks specifically and are far more informational than mine.

Traditional Japanese masks are mostly decorative and are available for sale at shrine festivals and events. Others are worn during certain Shinto dances or by actors performing a role on the stage. Most of these masks are archetypes borrowed from myth, ancient dances or Noh theater, and they have become some of the most popular Japanese masks that you’ll see today. I consider professionally made Noh masks the best in the world. Do you agree with me? If not, please comment.

 

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