East Asia

Japanese fox mask with moving jaw

Q:  I would appreciate you posting this old Japanese  mask of mine. Your viewers can see more on the eBay site by searching for “maskmonger.”  Nate, 1444

A:  Kitsune is the Japanese name for this fox mask. There’s patina attesting to multiple times that this mask was culturally danced. Note the articulating jaw that would move during the performance. Signed by “MOTONAGA” or “GENCHOU”. This mask was made and used at sacred Shinto performances during the Kagura shrine festivals. Given Japans rapidly shrinking population, which is making small towns and their shrines close, it seems all the more likely that this is an actual Shrine mask.

The dancer wearing this mask would have interacted with the crowd and passing out rice cakes. The hole to the upper right of the signature is center of the tree rings or core. It is difficult to determine the mask’s age since its made of all natural elements and using the same techniques that the Japanese have been refining for hundreds of years.  22 cm Tall x 19 cm Wide x 17 cm tip of nose to back of mask. Old painted wood.  A+

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