TITLE: Topeng Bondres
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Indonesia
SUBREGION: Bali
ETHNICITY: Balinese
DESCRIPTION: Bondres Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Topeng Dance Drama; Barong Performance
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: pule wood
OTHER MATERIALS: human hair; adhesive; paint

The Topeng dance drama is an important traditional entertainment and education on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Its origin can be traced to the oral history of the Balinese people and venerable palm-leaf written histories, influenced by Hinduism imported from India. The dance may have originated as early as 840 CE. The stories depicted in this drama, called Babad Dalem, tell a political history of the islands of Bali and Java as written by the court poets of the regional kings.

This specific mask represents a class of clownish characters known as bondres. Unlike this mask, the bondres character typically wears a half mask or an articulated full mask strapped to the head to allow for speaking or singing.  Unlike most Balinese masks, which portray stock characters, many bondres characters are unique representations of village types portrayed by the actor who owns the mask.

For more on Balinese masks, see Judy Slattum, Masks of Bali: Spirits of an Ancient Drama (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992).

:

TITLE: Shishi Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Kantō
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Lion Dance (Shishi Mai) Mask (Gashira)
MAKER: Unknown maker in Gunma Prefecture
CEREMONY: Shishi Mai
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; lacquer

The shishi mask represents a mythical lion that protects and purifies the region in which it dances, driving away evil spirits, famine, and disease. The shishi mai (lion dance) is performed throughout Japan on festival days, especially during the lunar new year and Buddha’s birthday. Its appearance varies in different villages, with the lion style (like this mask) predominating, but other animals, such as a deer, cow, or mythical kirin, used in certain villages. The lion is accompanied by a retinue of drummers playing the taiko drum, as it walks through the town, dancing and bestowing blessings on locals. To drive away evil spirits, the shishi bites the head of villagers, which brings good luck and health.

The lion dance originated in China and was brought to Japan by Chinese travelers around the early 16th century (Muromachi Period). As in China, the shishi can be danced by a sole performer or a group. In western Japan, the gigaku-kei style of shishi mai is performed by two or more dancers bundled into a long costume. In the Kantō and Tōhoku, the dance style is known as furyu-kei, and is performed by a single dancer, who beats a drum tied around his waist.

:

TITLE: Chwibari Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Songpa-dong, Seoul
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Chwibari (Drunkard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Seoul
CEREMONY: Songpa Sandae Nori Drama
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; varnish; polyester cloth

Songpa Sandae Nori is a traditional masked play from the Songpa-dong and Garak-dong neighborhoods of Seoul, South Korea. Traditionally, the play begins with a parade circling the Songpa Market area to announce the performance. The actors and musicians then perform a ritual (seomakgosa) to sanctify the play and honor the ancestors.

The drama itself consists of either seven (short version) or twelve (long version) acts dealing with class conflict and human weakness and nobility.  In the play, thirty-three different masks are used to represent different characters.

This mask represents a drunkard (chwibari) who performs the kaekki chum dance. In the Fourth Act of the drama, a very holy monk abandons his doctrines and seduces a shaman girl. Later, a drunkard appears and, challenging the monk, wins the girl for himself.  After she bears his baby, she abandons him, and chwibari undertakes to educate his child himself.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

:

TITLE: Chwibari Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Hwanghae Province
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Bongsan Talchum Chwibari (Drunkard) Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker at Seoul Institute for the Arts
CEREMONY: Talchum Drama
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 2005
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton hood; stitching; paint

Talchum has been called Korea’s first “professional” masked dance drama, although it originated as part of seasonal festivities in the Bongsan region, it later relocated to Sariwon, on a major trade route, and during the Japanese Colonial Era was performed in a theater for paying patrons. The drama is accompanied by music played on a small samheyon yukgak ensemble, consisting of three aerophones, one chordophone, and two membranophones.

This mask represents a drunkard (chwibari) who performs the kaekki chum dance. In the Fourth Act of the drama, a very holy monk abandons his doctrines and seduces a shaman girl. Later, a drunkard appears and, challenging the monk, wins the girl for himself.  After she bears his baby, she abandons him, and chwibari undertakes to educate his child himself.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

:

TITLE: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Korean expatriates in China
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Eight Heavenly Maidens Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Kuunmong Drama
FUNCTION: entertainment
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; stitching; cotton cloth; dyed cotton cords; elastic band; hardware

This mask was probably made by Korean expatriates living in China for use in a performance of the Kuunmong drama.  Kuunmong, or “The Cloud Dream of the Nine,” is a 17th century Korean novel set in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). Although probably originally written in Chinese, it was early translated into Korean and is considered one of the main masterpieces of Korean literature.  Kuunmong tells the story of two young men who live strict Buddhist and Confucian lives, respectively.  The Confucian hero, So-yoo, marries or takes as concubines eight beautiful maidens, of which this mask probably represents one.  The mask is thus not made for a traditional cultural ceremony of Korea, but rather as a form of entertainment and cultural education.

For more on Korean masquerade, see Jeon Kyung-wook, Korean Mask Dance Dramas: Their History and Structural Principles (Gyeonggi-do, Rep. of Korea: Youlhwadang Pub. 2005).

:

TITLE: Mangkornkanth Khon Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Thailand
SUBREGION: Bangkok
ETHNICITY: Thai
DESCRIPTION: Mangkornkanth Demon Khon
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Ramakien Dance Drama
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; gilding; rhinestones; paint; wooden fangs

The Ramakien is the Thai adaptation of the traditional Hindu epic from India, the Ramayana.  Most male characters in the drama wear masks fashioned from paper maché and elaborately gilded, decorated, and painted.

This mask represents the minor demon king Mangkornkanth, the second king of Romkan and a minion of the demon king Totsakan.

For more on Thai khon masks, see Natthapatra Chandavij & Promporn Pramualratana, Thai Puppets and Khon Masks (Bangkok: River Books, 1998).

:

TITLE: Japanese Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Kyoto Prefecture
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Wood mask of unknown type
MAKER: Unknown workshop near Kyoto
CEREMONY: Unknown
AGE: 1985
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: string

This is a mask of an unknown type.  It may have been used in kyōgen, which is a form of short comedic play popular in small villages and used as an intermission between dramatic nōgaku plays.


To watch a short documentary about Japanese Nogaku (Noh drama and Kyogen plays), click above.

:

TITLE: Gyōdō Bosatsu Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Kyoto
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Mask of Bosatsu (Bodhisattva)
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Gyōdō Procession
AGE: early 20th century
MAIN MATERIAL: hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: lacquer; paint

The gyōdō procession of Japan is a Buddhist ritual having several forms. Its oldest ceremony involves priests chanting sutras while walking in a procession around a temple building or idol. Gyōdō can also take the form of a masked funeral procession around a temple. The third type, which is the most commonly performed today, is a reenactment of the raigō, the legendary descent of the Amida Buddha from Nirvana to welcome the dead to the Western Paradise. In this ceremony, a priest wearing a mask of the Amida Buddha leads a procession of masked bosatsu.  Bosatsu is the Japanese term of Bodhisattva, a Buddhist saint who delays entering paradise to help mortals on Earth. Each bosatsu carries a heavenly musical instrument. The procession is still performed in some temples, such as Taima-dera in Nara or Sennyuji in Kyoto.

:

TITLE: Child’s Monkey Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Kyoto
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Saru (Monkey) Mask for a Child
MAKER: Unknown maker in Sagano, Kyoto
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Celebration; Purification
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: washi (Japanese paper)
OTHER MATERIALS: newspaper; water-based paint; adhesive; string

Masks made from washi (thin but tough Japanese paper) are traditionally used by ordinary Japanese people during popular summer festivals in Kyoto Prefecture, such as Otaue Matsuri (rice planting festival) and rice harvest festival. They typically represent a lucky totem, such as the rabbit (usagi), dragon (doragon), raccoon dog (tanuki), or monkey (saru). Most often, such masks are worn by children, although adults may join in the fun as well.   The inscription reads: “Protection from Evil Mask, Saga.”

:

TITLE: Child’s Dragon Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Kyoto
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Doragon (Dragon) Mask for a Child
MAKER: Unknown maker in Sagano, Kyoto
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Celebration; Purification
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: washi (Japanese paper)
OTHER MATERIALS: newspaper; water-based paint; adhesive; string

Masks made from washi (thin but tough Japanese paper) are traditionally used by ordinary Japanese people during popular summer festivals in Kyoto Prefecture, such as Otaue Matsuri (rice planting festival) and rice harvest festival. They typically represent a lucky totem, such as the rabbit (usagi), dragon (doragon), raccoon dog (tanuki), or monkey (saru). Most often, such masks are worn by children, although adults may join in the fun as well.  The inscription reads: “Protection from Evil Mask, Saga.”

: