TITLE: First Yangban
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Korea
SUBREGION: Hwanghae Province
ETHNICITY: Korean
DESCRIPTION: Bongsan Talchum First Yangban (Educated Nobleman) Mask
MAKER: Gim Gisu
CEREMONY: Talchum Drama
FUNCTION: celebration; entertainment
AGE: 1977
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: cotton hood; animal fur; 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 superficial nobleman (yangban) with a cleft lip. In the play, this character is shown to be undignified and unworthy of his title.

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).