This superb Japanese antique and rare Edo Period mask is made as the Noh Okina or old man character of Hanakobu Akujō 鼻瘤悪尉, another site has it spelled 'Hana kobu Aku jyo'. Hanakobuakuj means 'bumpy nose fierce old man'. This character is often used for the old man character in a play, It was a purchase from an antique store in the U.S, and per my personal research dates to the 1860's and came from the Akita Prefecture. The very interesting mask is hand carved with great artistic detail most likely from cypress wood. It appears to have been dry lacquered with a dark tinted lacquer which is just slightly and appropriately worn with age. It is carved into an unusual small round shape as if it was made as a real child's Noh mask due to the size. The large ears and bumpy nose are characteristic of Hanakobu Akujō face full of expression. The wrinkles furrouged brow, wide eyes and mouth formed quite perfectly arround his tongue sticking out! This mask is in good 150-year-old condition, it has a crack on the top of its head which appears to have been part of the wood when carved due to the lacquer as may be the case for the other.
There is minor age wear and natural formations of the wood which may appear to be, i.e. a small little crack right under his mouth. Otherwise scrapes and such as seen in the pictures. It is strung for hanging. This style mask no matter the character is a rare and old find according to another collector and a well-known antique dealer with a similar mask, the only other I have seen so far. It is a great piece of Japanese Noh history a wonderful find and most excellent collector's item. Measuring a near perfect diameter;
SIZE: Height 6 1/2 in. or 16.51 cm, Width 6 1/2 in. or 16.51 cm, Depth 4 in. or 10.16 cm.
From the Japanese Performing Arts Center about Hanakobu Akujō 鼻瘤悪尉
A mask representing a fierce, old man. Tensely furrowed eyebrows, which create a large, deeply carved V-shaped crease, converge at the top of a prominent nose with a distinctive double bump. Veins run down both sides of its forehead. Tan horse hair implanted below the nose, below the lip, and on the chin surrounds the half-opened mouth baring a large set of gold metal upper teeth. The tip of the tongue is just visible. Often used instead of ōakujō for the role of a dragon god who performs a 'gaku' dance in the second act of Shirohige, Ōyashiro, and Tamanoi. Attributed to Suminobō.
The following is from the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford in the U.K., I was not aware of the mask only being worn by the main character so cannot speak to this statement’s accuracy.
Stage props on the other hand, were hardly needed at all. More important than the costume was the Noh mask. Masks are only worn by the main character, his mask would stylise the person it represents and show them in a truer light than reality could do by depicting only the absolutely essential traits of character. There are five categories of Noh masks: gods, demons, men, women and the elderly.
The masks used in Noh theatre generally show a neutral expression so it is up to the skill of the actor to bring the mask to life through his acting. The parts are all acted by men, so the task of performing as a young woman is one of the most challenging for any actor. The masks are comparatively small and they only cover the front of the face having only small holes for eyes, nostrils and mouth.
Please feel free to ask for the link to Japan's Performing Arts Center, which will not link on our Favorites page as some other large sites.
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