Japan, 19th century
Well carved as a Hannya mask for the role of Kiyohime, with bulging eyes double-inlaid in pale and dark horn, the mouth wide open in a ferocious scream showing tongue and teeth flanked by sharp fangs, the hair neatly incised and wrinkles deeply carved, the interior of the hinged cover carved with a striker, forming a himotoshi underneath.
LENGTH 9.6 cm
Condition: Good condition with minor wear, light scratches. A small repair to the edge of the cover.
The Hannya mask represents a female serpent-demon filled with malicious jealousy and hatred. The mask is worn by the protagonist (shite) in the second acts of the Noh plays Aoi no Ue, Dojoji, Kurozaka, and Momijigari. The first two plays depict women betrayed or spurned by their lovers; the second two portray demons who first appear in human form to trap the unwary. Several traditions account for the name Hannya: the most plausible account traces the origins of the mask to the mask carver Hannyabo who was active in the late 15th or early 16th century. The bell striker, which forms the cord attachment in the present tonkotsu, indicates that this particular Hannya mask was used for the Dojoji play for the role of Kiyohime.
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