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Carved wooden Noh mask of "Hannya"; brown, with gold horns and teeth, and bronze eyes. Black painted hair, with stray strands falling over the face, prominent ears.

History Of Use

Japanese Noh plays are the classical dramas of Japan, tragic in character and based upon literature dealing with the court in a remote age. The audience for this drama has always been drawn from an aristocratic circle. Men play both the male and the female roles in Noh theatre, and masks are worn primarily by the shite (main actor). Masks of women broadly represent female characterizations in Katsuramono (woman or wig plays). The mask is the most significant expressive vehicle in Noh plays. An actor is meticulous about choosing the right mask to enhance his interpretation of the role. From the moment the mask is secured on his face, the actor is regarded as completely transformed into the character he portrays. A mask can be fully appreciated only when it is brought to life by a great actor on stage. Hence, the more a mask is used in performances, the more artistic and historical value it acquires. The Hannya mask is used in Kijomono (fiendish woman plays).

Iconographic Meaning

This mask depicts Hannya, the jealous woman or jealous demon. Hannya represents the fury of a woman transformed by jealousy and frustration.

Item History

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