Here is an interesting piece! The Japanese, discard and put a drastically reduced price on anything blemished, damaged or otherwise. Conversely, any real, used, NOH masks are in Museums or have price tags of several hundred thousand dollars in the hands of private collectors. This one, appears to represent both... Everything about this mask attests to it being used, and authentic, but as one can see its a bit damaged.
What attests to its authentic use as a NOH mask? Masks that are meant to be danced have this smooth, shiny, protective lacquered coating on the reverse side to protect the wearer's face. Second, one can readily see where the straps have worn away, by way of being jostled around, the painted hair on the edge of the mask evidencing it being worn. The straps also have discoloration from sweat of the performer and over the years have become a bit stiff in these areas as its accelerated the aging of the straps in these areas. Third, the craftsmanship is astounding...Look at how thinly carved the mask is!!! (see the last picture showing the thinness of the carving compared to an American quarter). Fourth the back of the mask is recessed to ergonomically fit the wearer's nose, eyes etc.. Noh masks have to be very light because they are worn throughout a performance that lasts for several hours. They are carved from one piece of cypress wood. After the masks has been carved to the desired thickness, holes for eyes, nose and mouth have been cut, it is then coated with layers of gofun.. Its also made of Gofun as it should be.
Gofun being a combination of animal-bone-based-glue and crushed oyster shells that are indicative of these masks for hundreds of years. My camera was trying to facially recognize the item as I was taking pictures. I love the expression captured in the character's eyebrows... Subtle, but a difficult item to capture and carve. Signed in a golden pen on the back.
Apparently by the artist not the performer, and reads. If you ever owned a traditional, gofun NOH mask you know that they are virtually impossible to care for...Too much humidity and the gofun will flake.. Short of keeping these in your basement, their original cedar boxes never to be displayed, or in a humidor, there's little chance of ensuring they don't crack, flake, and look just like this one does. To that end, its a bit of a relief from my perspective, that the burden to maintain perfect has been reduced in this example. The character represented here is Ariwara no Narihira (Ariwara no Narihira). Sorrow is captured in his eyebrows...
He is a hero in a tragedy. Many of my other masks from my collection are up for sale current - Check out my other items. Ariwara no Narihira (ca 823-880) was the fifth son of Prince Aho and a grandson of the emporer Heijo. He and his brothers, on their father's advice, renounced their royal rank and became noblemen. Narihira owned estates near the former capital of Nara and held a succession of government offices.
The year before he died, he was lieutenant general of the Left Divison of the Imperial Guard. His most famous work is the Ise monogatari, or Tales of Ise. A collection of his verse appeared in the Kokin wakashu (Anthology of Poems Old and New) complied in 905 by the poet Ki no Tsurayuki.
In the late 18th century--the Edo period--the Wakashu poets won renewed popularity as part of a Japanese revivalist movement. Here is one of his poems. Princess I know not whether.
Is was I who journeyed there. Or you who came to me. Was it dream or reality? Was I sleeping or awake? Narihira Last night I too.
Wandered lost in the darkness. If the traveler wading it. Narihira I shall cross again to you. The item "Antique, Japanese, DANCED, Noh Mask CHUJYO, Signed THINLY Carved MasterCraftsman" is in sale since Saturday, December 13, 2014. This item is in the category "Antiques\Asian Antiques\Japan\Masks".The seller is "cosmic_goods" and is located in Freeport, Maine. This item can be shipped worldwide.