A New Video Reveals How a Conventional Japanese Noh Masks Emerges from a Block of Cypress

  • Jun 8.

Noh is the earliest theatrical artwork kind in Japan and remains to be carried out in the present day. Developed within the 14th century, it usually focuses on tales by which a supernatural being has reworked right into a human and is narrated from the hero’s perspective. A core aspect of the costumes is very stylized Noh masks, which characterize characters like deities, ghosts, and different figures, subtly emphasizing expression and emotion as their wearers flip within the mild. A brief documentary by Course of X explores how the craft of carving the props by hand is stored alive by artisans like Mitsue Nakamura.

Beginning with a block of Japanese cypress, Nakamura chisels the spherical face, eyes, nostril, and tooth. Coated with a lacquer historically derived from crushed seashells blended with glue, the shape is then dried earlier than being pierced on either side with a sizzling axe to tie strings by way of. The artist mixes pigments by hand so as to add colour to the options, together with blackening the tooth in a follow often called ohaguro, a vogue that was common in Japan in the course of the Heian interval.

For some households and establishments, Noh carries a timeless and essential legacy, and plenty of traditionally important and worthwhile masks, corresponding to these made by the Fifteenth-century Konparu college, are preserved in collections. “The time period ‘face like a Noh masks’ is commonly used as a metaphor for expressionlessness, however the main attribute of the world of Noh is that it expresses human emotions and inside ideas slightly than storytelling,” says Nakamura in an announcement. “The higher the masks is, the extra the expression modifications with a slight distinction in angle.”

Course of X regularly goes behind the scenes with makers and artisans, together with on this video documenting the making of inventive manhole covers in Japan. (by way of Kottke)


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