This Japanese vintage pottery decorative Noh & Kagura mask of the character Chikyu is about 80 years old from the early Showa period, and close to being an antique. It is made of very heavy pottery, but we do not know where it was initially made. The seller from Japan purchased it at an auction. It has a wonderful face, full of joy and laughing. The mask is painted in a deep autumn red, then antiqued in black. Per my Japanese seller it is made using the Kanshitsu process, which is a compound of lacquer, wooden powder and hemp cloth, coated with lacquer Chikyu is just one type of character in found in both the Noh & Kagura plays. Please see on of our Favorites Link 'the-noh' for complete information Noh Theater. There are several other sites to find information about Noh plays in addition to this site. As shown in the pictures, its condition is excellent for its age on the front, on the back rim there are chips to the lacquer. There are a few little small peeled spots of paint and the worst edge of the mask is shared in the last picture. It can be held with a regular medium diameter household brown cord. It is a very large mask as compared to most display masks we have.
SIZE: Height 10.6" or 27 cm, Width 8.2" or 20.8 cm, Depth 6.7" or 17 cm , Heavy, use Retail Ground Shipping U.S.
the NOH 能楽
Excerpts from Theatre Nohgaku, please see their site for more detailed and complete information
Noh developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the leadership of the distinguished performer-playwrights Kannami and his son Zeami. Zeami, in particular, wrote numerous plays which are still performed in today’s classical repertory of some 250 plays. He also wrote a number of once secret works which explain the aesthetic principles governing noh and give details on how the art should be composed, acted, directed, taught, and produced noh flourished during Zeami’s time under the patronage of the military shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. Although it nearly died out, enough performers regrouped, found private sponsors, and began teaching the art to amateurs so that it slowly began to flourish again. Today, like many classical performance forms throughout the world, noh cannot be described as a popular art among the average Japanese. Yet its supporters are enthusiastic and its professional performers are highly trained and extremely busy performing and teaching throughout the country. There are today approximately 1,500 professional performers who make their living largely through performing and teaching noh.
CHARACTERS The main character of a noh play is called the shite (pronounced sh’tay) who sometimes appears with one or more companion characters called tsure. In many plays, the shite appears in the first half as an ordinary person, departs, then appears in the second half in his true form as the ghost of famous person of long ago. The former is called the maejite and the latter, the nochijite. They are traditionally performed by the same actor. The secondary actor, the waki, is often a travelling priest whose questioning of the main character is important in developing the story line. He also often appears with companion waki-tsure. An interlude actor called ai or ai-kyogen also often appears as a local person who gives further background to the waki, and thus to the audience, in order to understand the situation of the shite.
MASKS Makeup is not used in noh. Rather, delicately carved masks are often used by the shite main character and/or the tsure attendant. These masks are considered objects of superb beauty as well as powerful means of expression. In general, any character being portrayed which is not a middle-aged man living in the present will wear a mask. Therefore all characters portraying women and old men wear masks as well as supernatural beings such as ghosts, deities, demons, and divine beasts. In general, masks either have a more or less neutral expression, or portray a very strong emotion. The former, in fact, allows the mask a variety of expressions with the play of light and shadow on it as the actor changes slightly the tilt of the mask. Even in roles in which an actor does not wear a mask, the sense of a masked face is evident. This is called hitamen, literally “direct mask.”For this, the actor does not use his face for realistic expression but rather for mask-like expression. The waki secondary character or accompanying wakizure never wear masks as they are meant to be middle-aged men living in the present-time of the play.
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