Noh Mask: Shishiguchi

Noh Mask: Shishiguchi
Color on wood (hinoki cypress); mask length 20.0 cm; Muromachi period, 16th century; Gift of the Ii Family

This venerable mask represents the shishi, divine lion messenger of the bodhisattva Manjusri in the noh play Shakkyō (Stone Bridge). The play centers around a shishi that gambols among peony flowers, and the priest Jakushō. Displaying powerful sculptural lines and skillful handling of eyebrow and whisker details, this mask is considered one of the finest in the Ii family collection. On the back is a kiwame (authentication certificate) inscription added in 1656 in gold paint (kindei) that indicates the mask was made by “Shakuzuru.” Old demon masks of superior quality were often appraised as being works by Shakuzuru.

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