mask of a slightly smiling female face; lips slightly parted with black teeth; eyes looking straight forward; painted eyebrows near top of forehead; painted black hair framing face; ivory pigment with gray shading

Noh mask of a woman, 18th-19th century

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Noh masks were typically made of cypress wood, primed with gofun (shell white) and animal glue, and colored with mineral pigment. They developed out of gigaku, a type of masked dance with mime that originated in Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea (57 BC to 668 AD). During Noh performances, the actor in the principal role known as shite wears masks to play supernatural beings, women, and the elderly. Because Noh actors were limited to men until around 1900, those playing a young man, usually the supporting character called waki, went maskless. As the masks do not move, actors control the expression of each mask on stage by skillfully tilting their heads to evoke emotion through light and shadow.

Details
Title
Noh mask of a woman
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2015.79.270
Catalogue Raisonne
Murase, Art through a Lifetime, no. 579
Curator Approved

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mask of a slightly smiling female face; lips slightly parted with black teeth; eyes looking straight forward; painted eyebrows near top of forehead; painted black hair framing face; ivory pigment with gray shading