This signed Japanese vintage decorative Noh mask of Ko-Omote is about 30-40 years old. It is not a mask to be used as it has no holes for the eyes, rather one to decorate with. This style is used in both Noh and Kagura theatre, two different types of plays in Japan. Ko-omote represents the Japanese woman in these plays as a beautiful younger woman, whereas we also have the masks for older woman, a mask for Otafuku or lovely chubby cheeks woman, among others. This mask has been made with great talent into a beautiful woman by an artist. It is made by the Kanshitsu process which is a compound of lacquer, wooden powder and hemp cloth. It is well decorated on the front, in addition to being well formed to represent this beautiful woman the artist did a great job on what is the makeup of a Japanese Noh character of 'koomote'. We do not have the artist name and I am not sure we can get an interp on it due to the style and script writing.
It is in excellent condition, no cracks or chips. Please see the pictures and ask any questions. We are non-house smokers and do not smoke around our wares and our very careful with them to have clean hands and in the packing. We are careful to check incoming items for any unusual smells. Again please let us know if you have any questions. This is a purchase from a well- known and honest, quality antique dealer.
Size: Height 8.1"or 20.5cm, Width 5.3"or 13.5cm), Depth 3.1"or 8.0cm
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The History of Noh 能
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. That is a shame because we loved going to the plays when we lived there, yet the younger generation found other forms of entertainment. 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.
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.
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.
above from Wiki
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