Noh Mask Dimension   − Mitsue Nakamura’s Essay

“Crafting skill - 2”

June 25, 2008

Lips have strong degree of curvedness.
In fact, they have considerable depth. Because of this, the small mouth seeing from the front of the mask looks wider when the mask moves slightly.
It looks as if the integration of the two mouths into one - one is slightly open and the other is pulling tightly to the back.
The eyes and mouth of the Noh mask is an inclusive form of the movements.
It is mysterious why such a deformed shape looks beautiful and graceful.
However, Noh masks acquired the graceful beauty even though they were deformed as such, I believe that that is the most prominent aspect of the Noh masks.

“Crafting skill”

March 10, 2008

This mask “Manbi” looks downward-looking when viewing from its side, but when we look at it from front view, its eyes are facing front.
This formation gives subtle but great effect.
By tilting the mask subtly to the downside, its eyes turn looking downside.
When we see our hands, we tilt our neck and look downwards. The Noh masks are moving just as same as our moves.

By tilting the mask slightly, the bottom lines of the almond-shaped eyes will perceive the eyes are looking downward.
On the other hand, just tilting the mask slightly up, the bottom lines of the eyes will turn into gentle mountain-shaped lines.

That is to say, the art formation of Manbi, is integrated with the carving of the down-ward looking and facing front eyes. This “formation that includes the movement”, indeed, is hidden and the most important art for the carving of the Noh masks.


July 15, 2007

Is the delicacy of the Noh mask came from the weakness of the vital force?
Supposing that the land with warm climate blessed by the four seasons forms the characters of the people, literally our soil is the one created the Noh masks.
There used to be a lifestyle, which is to love the season's transition, leave their life to nature, and make a harmonious accord to the nature.

It has been told the people’s life in Western culture whose faith is monotheistic, battled against wild nature and conquer it; vice versa, Japanese life, who believe in many gods and goddesses, opted to coexist with nature and became nature-oriented.


October 5, 2006

The Noh masks have a history for 600 years. However, it does not mean that it took 600 years to completely and finalized the image format. The whole image setup might be completed prior 600 years ago. The mystery of their existence brings us into a maze.
I cannot help myself admiring when I turned the pages of picture book and suddenly I came across to a “perfected” Noh mask, which is used in the present Noh stages just right after the page of the barbaric ethnic mask.
Is there any way we can find the missing link that will fill the gaps between these the masks?
Besides, it may be interesting to mention, but the Noh mask artisans know the great development as such could be happen just inside of a person.


April 1, 2006

Masks are telling us the distinctions of the each ethnic group – not only the external form but also the spiritual inside.
Compare to the group of the masks abroad, which have full of energy, Noh masks are quite delicate, with a respected dignity embodied for them as well.
The Noh masks are not willingly to be broadened and they condense into the beauty that came from by concealing their emotions.
If Japanese these days are no longer feel the indecisiveness to Noh masks, we may already be foreigners.


October 1, 2005

The facial expression of the Noh mask has changes.

By the lights and angles, the movements of the actors and the hidden skill of the carving, changes delicately, but sometimes ragingly.

The female Noh masks with gentle facial expression show us the subtle changes by leaning slightly. It is often said that they change the mask facial expression by facing up for smiling and sadness when the mask face down. However the changes are not limited as such. In the Noh play, there is a story and an actor. The female mask shows sometimes her madness or cleverness and in other occasion, she looks far distance with boundlessly. The secret of the changes are hidden in the formatives of the Noh masks.

The Noh mask with strong facial expression changes its facial expression ragingly by lights and angles.

Hashihime turns into;
An incarnation of the somber-looking woman walking on the bridge on the Noh stage,
A jealous monster as she stands at the head of the husband; and a woman feeling emotional overwrought with the impulsion of giving her romantic rival a hearty whack.
Can you imagine those scenes on those pictures with the facial expressions of Hashihime changes in three ways?