9 in x 9 in x 3 in
Papier-mâché

Japanese KyogenTheater Mask - "Okame" Young Woman Character Mask

Spiritual Connections - Theater mask

Asia

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Japan

This Kyogen theater mask is made from papier-mâché. She represents Okame, an innocent young woman. Okame, also known as Uzume or Otafuku is the name for the female half of a traditional Japanese Kyogen theater pair. She is considered to be the goddess of mirth and is frequently seen in Japanese art. She has full cheeks and merry eyes. Some Japanese scholars theorize that long ago, when the first Okame masks were created, they may have represented an idealized form of feminine beauty. Okame's male companion is "Usobuki." Covering the face with a mask is much like wearing makeup. However, noh performers feel that the noh mask has a certain power inherent in it which makes it much more spiritual than a prop used to change one's appearance. Taking into account the status of a certain noh, the noh performer, shite, will carefully choose a noh mask, known also as a noh-men or omote. In most cases, the exact mask is not predetermined, but depending on which noh is being done, the shite has a variety to choose from. In the end, it is up to the shite to make the final determination as to which mask is chosen. After having the costume put on, the shite then goes to the kagami no ma (mirror room) where in front of a mirror, the shite faces the mask. In putting the mask on, the word kaburu (putting on clothing) is not used. Instead the word kakeru (to hang) or tsukeru (to attach) is used. In this way, it is implying that the performer is “becoming” the mask, and its emotions, in order to better express the characters feelings. In reality, a noh mask does not entirely cover a noh performer’s face when it is being worn. In fact, it is thought best if some part of the chin and/or jowls show. Noh (pronounced "no") theatre is one of the classical Japanese forms of stage performance. Noh and its more light hearted and humorous sister art Kyogen are often performed together in traditional theater houses within large Japanese cities. In the past, formal Noh/Kyogen performances would last all day with several heavy and serious Noh dramas of different genres being performed with periodic Kyogen performances between these to give the audience a break and a chance to laugh. Noh actors are always male (even the ones dressed as women), and normally share the stage with an orchestra of traditional Japanese musicians as well as a choir. The actors recite their lines in old Japanese style (most Japanese can't understand them and must follow the story with a written script) sung with trailing syllables oscillating with flowing emphasis. Noh and Kyogen actors often wear masks to help them better portray the character they are playing or to lend emphasis to key points of their performance. With the exception of demon masks (which are very expressive) most Noh/Kyogen masks are neutral in expression, requiring the actor to indicate emotion exclusively through subtle body movements. The craft of making Noh and Kyogen masks is an important Japanese art form in itself and many masks (particularly the dramatic demon and god masks) are collected by Japanese and foreign enthusiasts of Japanese culture.

http://www.nohmask21.com/eu/koomote1.html http://www.the-noh.com/en/world/mask.html http://www.shinto-religion.com/Japanese-Tengu-Mask-Papier-Mache-Karasu-Crow-Kamen-p/r2s2-0003352.htm