From the Maonan ethnic group living in the remote Guangxi Province, this is a well-used Nuo character mask. Nuo is an old name for exorcism ceremonies meant to drive off pestilence, disease and death. These ceremonies eventually evolved into dances, and later into operas. The Maonans have always been farmers, but times have been changing rapidly in the People’s Republic. Urbanization seems to be ending much of the folk art traditions. Masks like this one, repainted several times and now exhibiting a nicely worn patina, are almost impossible to find.
Categories: East Asia