Noh Masks; The Legacy of Possession

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Noh Masks: The Legacy of Possession Author(s): Solrun Hoaas Source: The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 26, No. 4, Masks (Winter, 1982), pp. 82-86 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1145522 Accessed: 18/05/2009 14:51 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior p
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  Noh Masks: The Legacy of PossessionAuthor(s): Solrun HoaasSource: The Drama Review: TDR, Vol. 26, No. 4, Masks (Winter, 1982), pp. 82-86Published by: The MIT PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1145522 Accessed: 18/05/2009 14:51 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=mitpress.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. The MIT Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Drama Review:TDR. http://www.jstor.org  ThehistoryoftheNohmask isoneof transitionromreligiousobjectto artisticobject.Intheearlyexorcismandrice-plantingitesthatprecededNoh,when an actorputon ademonmask,he becamea demon.Whenheputon the maskofagod,hebecameagod.Themask was anembodimentofa whollyother ;ts artisticappearanceandperfectionwere oflessimportancehan its ritualunction.Thisattitude owardthe maskis still evidenttodayintheperformancefDengakuandKaguraaspartof annual ritualeventsin ruralJapan.Thesrcinofmatsuri,theannualrites held atshrinesandtemplesto mark criticalstagesinthe annualcycle,liesin theconceptofentertaininghegods.IntheearlyShintocult,the kami(spiritorgod)residedinnaturalphenomena.To manifest tselftoman,thekamineededareceptacleorobjectinto whichit could descend.This couldbeatree,abannerora wand.Itmightbe amirror rasword,bothtraditionallyacredobjectsinJapan.Itcould alsobea mask.IntheearlyMuromachieriod(1336-1558A.D.),subscriptionntertainmentecamemoreand morecommon.Itbeganwithopen-airperformancesheldespeciallyto collectmoneyfor suchthingsasbridge-building.sopposedtoperformancespresentedinhonorof agod,thesekanjin-orsubscriptionperformances-hadto catertotastesrangingfrom thearistocracyothelowerclasses.With he increaseinsuchperformances,hereligiousontentoftheplaysdecreased.Theyemphasizedentertainmentand humancharacters ratherhangodsand demons.Thephysicalenvironmentof theeventalsochanged,the entrancefeerequiredaropedoffspaceandacontrolledpublic.Theatre movedout of shrineandtemplecompounds.With he formalizationfNoh theatrefromthefifteenthcenturyonwards,the contextofperformancechangedfromritualeventtopublicperformanceandofficialceremonial.Thesechangesincontext-aswell as theemergenceof newplayswithgreateremphasis THE DRAMAREVIEW,olume26,Number,Winter1982(T96)0012-5962/82/040082-05$4.00/0c1982bytheMassachusettsInstitutefTechnologyReprinted y permissionof CherifKhaznadarromLesMasqueset leursFonctions,editedbyCherifKhaznadar,publishedbyMaisonde la CulturedeRennes,France.  ASIA83on humanemotion anda whole newesthetic-effected thetypesofmasks used inNohand theattitudeoward he mask. Awe of the sacred turnedntoawe ofbeauty.Themaskchangedfromfunctioningas areceptacleof thegodto acentralfocusforthecontrolledexpressionofemotion.The masktook onimportanceasanobjectofbeautyandthesrcinalmaskdesigns,madebythegreatmastersofZeami'stime,wereidealized.Bytheseventeenthcentury,the Nohmaskmakingtraditionhadchangedfromspontaneous,srcinalmasksmadebyperformersorspecificoccasionsto theutsushi-menor copies madebyprofessionalcraftsmenaccordingorigidlyefinedprecepts.InNohtheatretoday,however,thelegacyofpossessionis adominatingramaticonceptand the maskis seenas anagentofthatpossession.The use ofthe maskinfolkperformanceaspartofannualritualeventsstillcarriedoutinruralapangivessome idea ofthemask'susageandattitudes o itintheDengaku,Sarugaku,andKagura,orms thatprecededtheseparationoftheserious andthe comicthatresultedinNoh andKyogen.Inthese folkperformanceshereis stillthesenseofawe for themaskas areceptacleof agod.Insomeritualevents,suchas atSakabe,thepriestwillonlytouch the mask withhissleeve whileholdingeavesinhismouth.Themaskmaybepassedfrom onemanto another on afan. InNiino,amongotherplaces,the masks arerepaintedbefore useeachyearand,whilerepaintinghem,themenholdpaperintheirmouthstopreventtheirbreath fromtouchingthe mask.Therepainting-or theaddingof cut-out whitepapertoforehead and chinonthe oldmen'smasks-isnotjustforpracticalreasons.Itis aformof renewal-insomecasesreferredo as a purificationfthemask, nothersas washinghe mask. Purificationmayalsobe donebystrewinghemaskwithsalt andsprinklingwateronitwithleaves.Insomecases,whitepaperisplacedbetween the maskandthe lowerhalf ofthewearer's facetopreventthebreathfromtouchingthe mask.Itis noaccident that theearliesttypesofNoh maskstodevelopwerethoseforgodsanddemons.SarugakuandDengakuwerecommonlyperformednshrines andtemplesaspartofreligiousceremonies,oftenincludingmagicandexorcism,before thetime ofZeami'sfather,Kan-ami(1333-1384A.D.).Inthisformativeperiod,thedemonhadaprominentpositioninNoh.Theearliest Nohplayswerewaki-no(godplays)andkiri-no(demonplays).Thedemonoronican behighlyparadoxical-bothbenevolentandvicious,boththeattackerandthe subduer ofevilspiritsandthe ominousrepresentationf evilitself.Theconceptofthestrongspirit,aprotector,ervant,andguardianofman,wascommoninearlyShintobelief. Suchbeingswere oftenthoughtto begiantslivingnthemountains.Today,too,itis often the oniwhobestowssignsofgoodluckandprotectionagainstdisease andaccidentintheyeartocome.Atriooffather,motherandchild onimaybringrain. The oni willdriveawaythespiritsthatmighttrytodamagethecrops.Alltheseareforms ofsympatheticmagic.AcontemporaryxampleisfoundintheYudateKaguraoftheToyamaShimotsuki MatsurinNaganoPrefecture onJanuary3-4,inwhich themasked kings ofearth, water,wood,and fireputtheirbarehandsintotwocauldronsofboilingwaterandsplashiton theonlookers. Thosereachedareprotectedandguar-anteedgoodfortune.Twomaincategoriesofmasksare foundbothinpre-NohandintheNohthatbecameformalizedafterZeami.First are theelaboratemasksofexaggeratedexpressioninthegodanddemoncategory,andsecond,thesimple,barelyndentedandalmostegg-shapedmasksused foryoungwomen or forthebuffoon(doke)whooftenappearsinfolkper-formances. Theformerwereprobablynspiredbyimportedmasksorsculpture;he latterrepresentanentirelydifferentnspiration,ossiblygoingbackto anearlyindigenousmasktradition.  84THEDRAMAREVIEW/T961)TakachihokaguraMasks: TheKagura(divinelitany)is aShintoritual.Itconsistsofchants,dancesandmusicinhonorofthegodsandkami(spirits).Itexistsinthreeforms: theMikaguraof the 12thcenturycourt,theMikomainterpreted byMikopriestesses,andtheKagura played bymen whorecount thestoryofthegodsinJapanese myths.TheTakachihokaguraexistsintheTakachihoregion(todaycalledMiyasaki),near where thedescendentsofthegodscreatedJapan.Theagrarianriteisthe mostimportantoftheKagura,and isheldeveryyeartowardthe end of November. Theceremonybeginsatseven o'clock atnightandfinishes the nextdayatnoon.Becausethe masksaresymbolsofthegods,theycannot beworn beforethepriesthasblessedthem.Crucialofolk beliefinJapanandtorites withmaskedmimicdanceistheconceptof agodwhoresidesinafar-awayplaceand who comestovisit at criticalimes oftheyear.One can see this reflectedeventodayinthe beliefssurroundingmysterioustrangersthatappearbetweenharvestand New Year. Suchpeoplewere life-giversromthe otherworldinheaven or from the eternal land overseas (HoriIchironStudiesinJapaneseFolkloreed.byR.Dorson)or,accordingo some scholarslikeYanagitaKunio,hespiritsofthe most distant ancestors.Inancient timestheywere believed tohave amagic,beneficial effecton both rice seeds andhumans,helpingthemthroughaperiodof non-growth.Averycommonphysicalmanifestationofthegod-from-afars theold man or theyoungwoman. These masks areverycommoninfolkbelief,andareperhapsthe mostlikely predecessorsoflater,similarNoh masks.
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