TITLE: Tajikarao No-mikoto Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Miyazaki
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Tajikarao No-mikoto Mask
MAKER: Hiroaki Kudo (Amano Iwato, Takachiho, 1961- )
CEREMONY: Kagura
AGE: 2019
MAIN MATERIAL: hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

Kagura is a form of music and dance from the Shinto religion. The Kagura involves maikata, or masked dancers with elaborate costumes and wigs, and hayashikata, or musicians playing the odaiko (large drum), kodaiko (small drum), chochigane (Japanese cymbals), and yokobue (a Japanese flute).

Kagura dance is not totally abstract, but rather is designed to tell a story, usually of Shinto origin.  The performance of a dance is intended not just to celebrate a holiday or entertain an audience, but as a religious duty to pray to Shinto gods for a good harvest or fish catch, or protection from disease or natural disaster. Kagura is now commonly performed at temples and in farming villages after the rice harvest to thank the gods for their bounty.

This mask represents the Shinto god Ameno Tajikarao No-mikoto, who created Mt. Togakushi by taking the solid rock door leading to a cave where the sun goddess Amaterasu had hid herself and throwing it toward Nagano.  Amaterasu had denied the world light by hiding in a cave after her godly sibling annoyed her, and Tajikarao, the god of strenght and sport, both restored the sun to the world and created a new mountain. The dance reenacts this heroic act.

For more on Japanese Kagura, see David Petersen, An Invitation to Kagura: Hidden Gem of the Traditional Japanese Performing Arts (2007).


Click above to watch a short documentary about the Kagura ceremony of Japan.

:

TITLE: Bugaku Sanju (?) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Nara Prefecture
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Bugaku Mask, probably representing Sanju
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Bugaku
AGE: late 19th century
MAIN MATERIAL: hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; water-based paint

Bugaku is an official court dance of Japan, dating back to about 500 C.E.  During the Heian period, Bugaku dances were so central to protocol that nearly all ceremonies and festivals included them. The dance was especially important in appeasing angry gods, purifying the village, and petitioning the gods for rain or a good harvest.  The dance is performed to the music of drums and flutes. The dancers enter the stage singly in succession, then dance together in pairs, in synchronicity to varying tempos. Each dance has its own mask and is named after the mask.

Bugaku masks were sometimes made of wood, like this one, and sometimes made from kanshitsu, a composite of sawdust and resin shaped over a mold. This mask was heavily danced in the late 19th century, and probably represents Sanju, a red-faced Japanese military hero. This is a highly martial dance, with the dancer wearing a helmet, a sword, and a long halberd (naginata) or spear (yari), and assisted by several young assistants (traditionally six, but often reduced now to four or two).

For more on Bugaku masks, see Kyōtarō Nishikawa, Bugaku Masks (Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd. 1971).


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Bugaku dance of Japan.

:

TITLE: Bugaku King Rangryo
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Nara Prefecture
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: King Rangryo Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Bugaku
AGE: ca. 1910
MAIN MATERIAL: hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood
OTHER MATERIALS: plaster; water-based paint; brass-sheeting; hardware; animal hair; silk cords

Bugaku is an official court dance of Japan, dating back to about 500 C.E.  During the Heian period, Bugaku dances were so central to protocol that nearly all ceremonies and festivals included them. The dance was especially important in appeasing angry gods, purifying the village, and petitioning the gods for rain or a good harvest.  The dance is performed to the music of drums and flutes. The dancers enter the stage singly in succession, then dance together in pairs, in synchronicity to varying tempos. Each dance has its own mask and is named after the mask.

Bugaku masks were sometimes made of wood, like this one, and sometimes made from kanshitsu, a composite of sawdust and resin shaped over a mold. This mask was danced in the early 20th century.  It is similar to a much older one in Nara, used at the Kasuga Taisha for festivals.  The chin is attached by silk cords to allow the mouth to swing freely with the dancer’s movements.

The Rangryo mask represents a young Chinese king who was renowned for his beauty, but who could not intimidate his enemies. In battle, he donned a hideous mask surmounted by a dragon to hide his face and frighten his enemies. The dance is a solo dance; it is highly martial and more active than many other Bugaku dances.

For more on Bugaku masks, see Kyōtarō Nishikawa, Bugaku Masks (Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd. 1971).


Click above to watch a short documentary film about the Bugaku dance of Japan.

:

TITLE: Pende Giphogo (Kipoko) Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of the Congo
ETHNICITY: Eastern Pende
DESCRIPTION: Giphogo (Kipoko) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Mukanda Ritual
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation; Protection; Purification; Social Control; Spirit Invocation; Status
AGE: ca. 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: cloth; string; pigment

The Pende people have many different kinds of masks they wear, especially at adult initiation rituals and funerals. The word giphogo (or kipoko) means “sword wielder” and is a symbol of power among the Eastern Pende. The mask is kept in the chief’s home, and only chiefs are allowed to authorize dance with this type of mask on the occasion of initiations and rituals of the ancestor cult of the Eastern Pende. It represent the village chief as intermediary between the living and the dead, and its uses include protection from evil spirits; prayers or thanks for successful harvests and tribal fertility; to identify and punish sorcerers; and adult initiation during mukanda rituals. As he dances, the kipoko dancer makes semicircular kicks to protect the village against evil spirits or sorcerers and to purify their illnesses.

The masquerader carries one or two flywhisks made of animal hair, which are used to mimic agricultural work or to purify the village grounds.

:

TITLE: Kuba Face Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Democratic Republic of Congo
ETHNICITY: Kuba
DESCRIPTION: Face Mask of Unknown Type
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Entertainment; Funeral; Status
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: copper sheet; burlap; cowrie shells; plant fiber; feathers; hardware; string; pigment

The Kuba people inhabit the area south of the Kasai River.  Although the Kuba have some two dozen mask types, those still in use today are mostly the three royal masks, whose use is reserved to those given permission by the quasi-divine king (nyimi). These are danced mainly as a form of entertainment reinforcing the status of the royalty and at chiefly funerals.  The adult initiation (mukanda) masks are now rarely used in Kuba society. This specific mask is of an unknown type.

:

TITLE: Kwele Helmet Mask
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Gabon
ETHNICITY: Kwele
DESCRIPTION: Ekuk Helmet Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Be’ete Society
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: kaolin clay; pigment; raffia fiber

The Kwele, also known as Kwese, people of Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo now live between the Dja and Ivindo rivers. Social control is exercised by the Be’ete Secret Society, which uses masks to adult initiation rituals, funerals, and protection of the village from malicious spirits.  The masks embody protective bush spirits, with the antelope a dominant presence among them.  Kaolin clay is nearly always used in Kwele masks, because its white color has spiritual meaning to the Kwele.

This specific mask represents an ekuk, or forest spirit, of a lion.

:

TITLE: Devil Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Queretaro
ETHNICITY: Otomí
DESCRIPTION: Diablo (Devil) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Semana Santa (Holy Week)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: hardware; goat horns; oil-based paint

During Semana Santa (Holy Week) in the small mountain town of El Doctor, Queretaro, townspeople reenact the Passion of Jesus Christ in a unique manner. Participants wear stiff cloth animal masks, known as fariseos (Pharisees) or judios (Jews) and persecute a person who portrays the torture and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. The fariseos make jokes and mock Jesus, but in the end are converted to Christianity when Jesus is portrayed as resurrected.  Fariseos tend to resemble animals, implying that the Pharisees are bestial.  This specific mask represents a devil (diablo), who encourages the fariseos.

:

TITLE: Seri (Comcaac) Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Sonora
ETHNICITY: Seri (Comcáac)
DESCRIPTION: Shamanic Mask
MAKER: Unknown maker in Bahia de Kino
CEREMONY: Shamanic Rituals
FUNCTION: healing (?)
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; animal bones; adhesive; string

The Seri people of Sonora, Mexico call themselves Comcáac. They live primarily on Shark Island (Isla Tiburón) in the Gulf of California, and the adjacent mainland of Sonora (Punta Chueca and El Desemboque). Despite invasive Spanish colonialism and periodic Mexican assimilation movements, they have maintained their traditions even today. Traditionally, they lived as preliterate hunter-gatherer bands of fifty individuals or fewer, with no tribal organization. They primarily engage in commercial fishing today.

Like many indigenous groups in the region, the Seri engaged in face painting and had shamans who played important roles in healing the sick and protecting the people. Very little is known of their masking traditions, but they were reported by R.W.H. Hardy in the early nineteenth century to have worn deer and mountain lion masks on some occasions, and to have carved wooden masks.  This specific mask may have been made by a shaman for use in healing the sick, and would have been worn with a fringe of ixtle fiber.

:

TITLE: Korkobi Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Michoacán (Charapán)
ETHNICITY: Purépecha
DESCRIPTION: Korkobi (Corcoví) Mask
MAKER: Victoriano Salgado Morales (1920-2012, Uruapan)
CEREMONY: Danza de los Viejitos
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: maque; plaster

The Korkobi mask (also written in many variations, such as Corcoví and Corcobi) represents a nocturnal bird, which in Purépecha beliefs is considered a sign of ill omen, because its song announces death.  However, the character also represents the sun. The Korkobi dances in the Christmas Eve Danza de los Viejitos (Dance of the Little Old Men) and is primarily used in the small town of Charapán.

In this dance, a female character (Maringuía) represents the moon, the Korkobi represents the sun, the tecolote (owl) the night, and the viejitos (old men) represent the stars dancing for the amusement of the Holy Child.

All the characters in the dance try to get the attention of the Maringuía with shouts and compliments but it is the Korkobi alone who succeeds in courting her.

:

TITLE: Huacón Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Peru
SUBREGION: Mito
ETHNICITY: Quechua
DESCRIPTION: Huacón Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Baile de la Huaconada
AGE: 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment

The Huaconada is a dance performed in the town of Mito, Concepción Province, in Peru. The dance is performed during the first three days of January.  The huacones wear wood masks replicating an old face, nearly always with a twisted mouth, and wear either of two types of costumes, traditional or modern. The huacones represent traditional village elders and, during the dancing days, they act as the highest political authority of Mito.  They carry whips (tronadores) to symbolize their political power.  The dance is accompanied by a small orchestra with an Andean drum known as tinya. Masks and costumes are passed down through the generations to those considered meritorious.

: