TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
DESCRIPTION: Kyodomen Kokushiki-Jo Mask
CATALOG ID: ASJP022
MAKER: Habu Mitsuma
CEREMONY: Okina (翁)
FUNCTION: agriculture; purification; spirit invocation
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: animal hair; pigment
The Okina is an ancient Japanese dance ritual that uses forms of mask known as kokushiki-jo and hakushiki-jo. These are among the oldest masked characters in Japanese ceremonies, originating as folk masks (kyodomen) used in ancient sarugaku (“monkey music”) theatre (circa 1000-1300 CE) and migrating to the formal stage for use between noh plays. The kokushiki-jo and haukshiki-jo both represent old men with divine qualities, but with slight differences in appearance. Unlike noh theatre, the Okina dance is mute, and it is performed by a kyōgen performer rather than a noh actor.
The Okina plays an important ceremonial role in the Shinto religion, because the kokushiki-jo performs the Sanbasō, a prayer-dance celebrating the emperor’s peaceful rain and seeking blessings for a bountiful harvest.
To watch a short documentary about Japanese Nogaku (Noh drama and Kyogen plays), click above.