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Japanese Noh Play Mask, Ko-Omote Variation

This Noh mask was hand carved from a block of Japanese cypress (hinoki), and painted with natural pigments on a neutral base of glue and finely crushed seashells. The well oxidized wood on the inside of the mask exhibits the handmade carvings of the anonymous artist. Beside the obvious mask's folk craft appearance, the 2 outstanding features of this work are its square eyes and black teeth.
Mid to late 1800s, Kyushu Island
5.1 X 8.2 inches
13 X 21 cm
Depth: 3.5 inches, 7 cm
2.8 oz, 80 g
Very good condition with no chipping, or cracking however miniscule hairline crazing. See photos for condition.
Ko-omote (small face) is a Japanese Noh drama character representing a charming and serene young woman. The dramatis personae of the part expresses the innocence of youth, and accords with the concepts of aristocratic female beauty of the Heian Era (794 to 1185 AD). In this example, we see a good 19th century hand carved and lacquered wood Noh mask of Ko-omote. The carved out square eyes represent those of a young maiden whose shaved eyebrows and blackened teeth are characteristics of the period's nobility. Noh is a traditional form of classical Japanese musical theater, performed since the 14th century. Most roles have masked men playing male and female parts.

Additional reading:
Noh masks and theater

Ohaguro, Black Teeth


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