AB 81-98


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What is it?
Ko-omote No Mask
What is it made of?
Where is it from?
Kyoto, Japan
When was it made?
Object ID
AB 81-98

This is a hand-carved and -painted No theater mask of a young woman made by the artist Izan Hotta. It would have been worn by a male actor. Called a "Ko-omote" (literally, "little mask"), it is meant to portray a beautiful and innocent young girl under the age of twenty. The mask features blackened teeth, red lips, and finely detailed eyebrows and hairline. She has black hair at the edge of the mask with a part down the middle and a stylized hairline. The mask comes with an orange silk case.

No (also written Noh) is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 14th century. Many characters are masked, with men playing both male and female roles. Traditionally, a No "performance day" lasts all day and consists of five No plays interspersed with shorter, humorous kyogen pieces. Present-day No performances often consist of two No plays with one kyogen play in between.

No masks (no-men or omote) all have names. They are carved from blocks of Japanese cypress and painted with natural pigments on a neutral base of glue and crunched seashell. Usually only the main actor wears a mask. In some cases, another actor may also wear a mask, particularly in the case of female roles. No masks portray female, child, elderly, or nonhuman (divine, demonic, or animal) characters; a No actor without a mask plays a role of an adult man in his twenties, thirties, or forties. Several types of masks, in particular those for female roles, are designed so that slight adjustments in the position of the head can express a number of emotions such as fear or sadness due to the variance in lighting and the angle shown towards the audience. 


Donated by Izan Hotta, 1981
AB 81-98 No mask (front)