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by AnnaFrancesca99
Last updated 7 years ago

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Graphic Arts

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Noh masks are very important props that are symbolic of Noh as a masked drama. They originate from Japan in the 14th century during the Muromachi period. Noh masks are valuable treasures which are handed down from generation to generation. Noh performers feel that the Noh mask has a certain power which makes it more spiritual than a prop used to change ones appearance. The performers must “make their face a mask” in other words inject power and emotion into the performance while not using their face to express it. The masks are created in a way in which that reality and dreams are imaginatively joined to produce a beauty of form, and great effort has been portrayed in order to adapt to the actual performance. Depending on the movements of the actor, they can cause many moods to be expressed on the stage.

Noh masks can show different emotions by tilting the mask at different angles. The masks are traditionally hand carved wood and can take weeks to complete. Several layers of Gofun (Japanese white wash) is applied to create to the face. Line is very obvious and is used to form contour, outline shapes and create emphasis in areas for specific expressions. The colours used are mainly off-whites or skin tones, fine details are painted last, such as single hairs, painted one by one.

The Sanko- Jo mask is given the name of its creator “Sanko Bo”. Sanko Bo was a late Muromachi era Buddhist monk from Echizen, who was very good at creating Jo-men and Ki-men, in particular the type of Sanko-Jo, which is said to be the reason this type is called so. The Sanko- Jo mask is a grinning old man with protruding cheekbones and deep lines across its forehead and cheeks. It is because of Sanko-Jo’s appearance that it is a favourite for rustic characters such as a powerful fisherman struggling with a rough sea, a stout farmer working under the blazing sun, a salt marketer, ghost, woodcutter, common villager or an ill-mannered lower-grade samurai.

60 types of Noh mask are known, these 60 are broken up into 6 categories they being; Okina (Old man masks), Jo (Elder masks), Onna-men (Woman masks), Otoko-men (Man masks), Kishin (Demons) and Onroyo ( Ghosts and Spirits). The mask of which I have chosen to study is called Sanko Jo which is in the category of Jo (Elder masks). Jo masks are distinguished by their hair and are normally worn by the leading actors in Part One in waki-no (God plays) or shura-no (warrior plays), in which they portray a spirit.

Noh (The art of Fear)Sanko-Jo Mask


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