AB 81-122


  • 2009.103.1 Hyottoko Mask
  • 2009.104.2 Okame mask (front)
  • 2009.104.1 Okame mask (front)
  • 2006.X.112 Ultraman mask (front)
  • AB 85-40 Lion Mask (jaws open)
  • AB 81-122 Kappa mask (front)
  • AB 81-98 No mask (front)
  • AB 86-1 Tengu Mask
  • AB XX 193 Tengu Mask
  • 2009.194.1 Oni Mask
  • 2006.X.71 Hyottoko Mask
  • 2006.X.59 Kitsune mask (front)
What is it?
Kappa Mask
What is it made of?
Where is it from?
When was it made?
Object ID
AB 81-122

This papier-mâché mask represents a kappa, one of the yokai (supernatural creatures) from Japanese folklore. It is recognized by its beak as well as the blue formation at the top; this would either be the container for water that is the source of a kappa's power, or the small cap kappa sometimes wear in order to protect this water. The mask is painted beige with a green beak, white eyes, black hair, and white-and-black striped markings on its upper lip. There are gold and orange accents as well.

Kappa ("river-child"), alternatively called Kawataro ("river-boy"), are typically small and humanoid in form, and have scaly, reptilian skin that is often green, yellow, or blue. Kappa are said to live in ponds and rivers, and therefore often have webbed hands and feet. They are characterized by having a beak for a mouth and a plate-like flat hairless region on top of their head that is always wet; this is considered their source of their power. When away from water, a kappa ensures that this cavity is always full -- if it should ever dry out, the kappa loses its power and possibly even its life. Therefore when they venture out onto land, they typically cover this plate with a metal cap for protection.

Kappa are usually seen as troublemakers or trickster figures, though sometimes are considered quite malicious. As water monsters, kappa have been frequently blamed for drownings, and are often said to try to lure people into the water for a wrestling match. One means of escaping a kappa is to take advantage of their polite natures: if a person were to bow to a kappa, it would feel obligated to bow in return--thereby losing the water that is contained on top of its head. Kappa are also known to help humans in exchange for gifts.



Donated by Tsutomu Yasui, 1981
AB 81-122 Kappa mask (front)