Saturday, July 7, 2018

The Noh Mask Exhibit

I was fortunate to be able to join two friends to see a fantastic exhibit of Noh masks. Noh is a form of Japanese theater which orginated in the 14th century. It combines music, dance, and drama.  The dual art of Noh and Kyogen, comical pieces which are performed during breaks in the main Noh performance, are listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.  The shite or main character in the performance wears a mask to tell the audience what kind of character is being portrayed.  

This exhibition contained 50 masks and the mask artist was on site to explain it to us.

The masks are made from blocks of Japanese cypress which are grown in the shade of other trees. He told us it takes about two months to carve each mask and explained the entire process, including coloring and hair. The mask insides are created so the sweat will drip out from the chin and not through the nose holes which could damage the face of the mask. The demon masks have brass eyes to reflect the stage lights and make them look scarier.

The masks were arranged by characters.  The first set are the comedy masks.

Men's masks

Next are the Demons


This exhibit was fabulous.  Now, I want to see a Noh performance!  


Jeanie said...

Wow -- what a fascinating exhibit. The masks are just stunning, each and every one. And to have the artist present to explain and illuminate the process or character would be so special. Thanks for sharing this one, Pamela.

kiwikid said...

Amazing exhibition Pamela, so good the tradition is being preserved. Was great too to have the artist there to explain them to you. Thanks for taking us on the tour.

Mia said...

Beautiful masks, Pamela. Great exhibition. Thank you for sharing your experience. Kisses, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Wow Pamela how exciting that you got to see all the masks,what a wonderful idea and so many different looks ,thankyou for sharing my friend xx

Queeniepatch said...

Has he made everyone of the 40 masks? Some of them look rather old, but they are all great, scary or beautiful. I wonder what it feels like to wear a mask through the entire performance.

FlashinScissors said...

The masks look quite small, Pamela! Must be difficult to perform while wearing one. How do they breathe if the holes are in the chin?
What an amazing exhibition. Nice of you to share your pictures.
Barbara xx

Leonore Winterer said...

Cool masks! I like the laughing old guys, and the demons are pretty cool as well.

Von said...

Fascinating exhibition!