Noh Mask: Hakushikijō

Noh Mask: Hakushikijō
Color on wood (hinoki cypress); mask length 18.6 cm; Muromachi period, 16th century; Gift of the Ii Family

The Hakushikijō, a type of Okina (old man) mask, is used exclusively in the ritual performance Okina, which predates the establishment of noh. Okina masks are considered divine. This one features a gentle smile and a detached chin (kiriago). The back of the mask has a kiwame (authentication certificate) inscription in gold paint (kindei) by Edo-period mask-maker Genkyū Mitsushige (d. 1719), which reads “Okina, by Nikkō.” A mask-maker of legendary fame, Nikkō is mentioned as an excellent maker of Okina masks in the sixteenth-century text Sarugaku dangi (Talks on Sarugaku) of noh founder Zeami’s talks recorded by his son.

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