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A Superb Old Japanese Tengu Mask from Japan 19th Century


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Collection No. TB-3946
Size 30.5cm x 24cm

A Superb Old Japanese Tengu Mask from the  19th Century

This superb old Tengu  Mask is from Japan and was carved in the 19th Century. The artist was a master carver who could take a piece of wood and turn it into a powerful artwork that looks alive.  This mask is a favourite of mine and I never get tired of looking at it as it is a great sculpture.

The Tengu or “Heavenly Sentinel” is a type of legendary creature found in Japanese folk religion. They are considered a type of yōkai (supernatural beings) or Shinto kami (gods). The tengu was originally thought to take the forms of birds of prey, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics. The earliest Tengu was pictured with beaks, but this feature has often been humanized as an unnaturally long nose, which today is widely considered the Tengo’s defining characteristic.  They are also thought to be parallel to the Garuda, a legendary bird or bird-like creature in Hindu, and Buddhist mythology, and influenced by Sarutahiko Ōkami, a native Shinto deity.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Private Collection of Asian and Oceanic Art