When you think of Japanese theater, many people will think first of the Noh drama. The Noh drama has been performed for over 1000 years, is one of the world’s oldest continually performed types of theater and is the oldest of Japan’s traditional performing arts . Even after such a long time the spirit of the Noh drama has never been extinguished, it is still around us in our modern lives. In this research paper I will talk about the Noh drama masks, as the masks are the soul of the Noh drama. Without the masks, most people wouldn’t realize that this is the Noh drama; the masks are very important as a symbol for the Noh drama. Besides being symbolic of the Noh drama, the masks also include much history and skill. The four topics I am going to talk about in this research paper are the history of the masks, how they were made, the different types of masks, and the changing of the expressions on the mask.
The histories of the masks have come long and far; the model of the present masks was first created at around 1392~1573.
Exactly when the noh mask came into being is not entirely clear however it is believed that masks, and their names still used today, were developed from the mid to latter part of the Muromachi period (1392-1573). Previous to that time, the mask conventions were not entirely set and masks themselves had stronger religious connotations. It was during the Muromachi period that the religious significance of the masks began to wane and they took on more human characteristics. It is thought that as performers started to think more about the use of yūgen (mysterious beauty) and profundity, they felt they needed to hide the unattractive aspects of their own faces and concentrate on making the beauty of noh stronger.
Between the end of the Muromachi period and the modern age the art of making noh masks was established as a hereditary art with a long lineage. Two examples are the Deme family from Echizen (present day Fukui prefecture) and...
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