This painted papier-mâché mask features Okame or Otafuku, the "homely woman," a figure from Japanese folklore known as the goddess of mirth. She is recognizable by her bulbous cheeks and forehead. She is painted on the front in white with small patches of black hair visible beneath a decorative pattern in orange, green, blue and gold flower petal shapes; there is also a swath of pale blue at the crown of her head. The lips and the area around the eye holes are painted orange, and pink dots accent the cheeks and forehead. Slits are cut at the eyes, and holes are cut at the nostrils and edges of the mouth for the wearer's convenience. A cord made of paper is threaded through a hole on either side of the head. The inside of the mask is covered with sections of rice paper that have been written on in Japanese characters with black ink; a red strip of velvet paper with faded gold writing is pasted to the inside of the forehead.
Okame, also known as Uzume or Otafuku, the "homely woman," is a figure from Japanese folklore. Okame is often portrayed as the female counterpart of Hyottoko in traditional Japanese Kyogen theatre (both are somewhat comical figures). She is considered to be the goddess of mirth and is frequently seen in Japanese art with her characteristic full cheeks and merry eyes. It is believed that Okame masks represent what was once an idealized form of feminine beauty.