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Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances


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Collection No. T-4245
Size Height 22 cm Without Stand
Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances
Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances
Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances
Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances
Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances
Japanese Hannya Mask use in Noh Theatre Performances

The finely carved Japanese Hannya Mask was made for traditional Noh theatre plays.

The name hannya is a Sino-Japanese word for prajna or wisdom. One tradition states that this name was given to this mask because it was the name of an artist monk Hannya-bō  who is said to have perfected its creation. An alternative explanation is that the artist would need a great deal of wisdom in order to create this mask.

The Hannya mask is used in many noh and kyōgen Japanese plays, as well as in Shinto ritual kagura dances.

The Hannya mask portrays the souls of women who have become demons due to obsession or jealousy. Plays in which a person may wear the hannya mask include Aoi no Ue and Dōjōji; its use in these two plays, two of the most famous of the Noh repertoire. The distinctive and frightening appearance makes it one of the most recognizable Noh masks.

When the actor looks straight ahead, the mask appears frightening and angry; when tilted slightly down, the face of the demon appears to be sorrowful, as though crying.

I am uncertain about the exact age of this mask but I think it is likely from the late 19th – early 20th Century. The mask comes on a high-quality stand that makes the mask appear to be floating in the air, it can be used on a table or shelf.

Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Japanese & Asian Art

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