DESCRIPTION: This vintage mask is a striking interpretation of the Japanese Noh theatre character, Hannya, the female demon. The Hannya mask with its horns and sharp fangs is probably the best known of all Noh masks.
Expressively carved from a single piece of wood, this Hannya mask displays sharp fangs, a protruding tongue, demon eyes and a bright red face. To enhance this already ferocious appearance, a double pair of real goat horns were attached, along with a wild goat-hair wig. We would date this expressive mask to the mid-20th C.; excellent condition. DIMENSIONS: 20" long from tip of horns to chin (50.8 cm); 8 1/2" wide not including wig (21.6 cm).
CULTURAL BACKGROUND: In Noh, there are many stories in which Hannya plays a part. The famous Noh play “Dodoji” tells the story of unrequited love between a woman and a priest of Dodoji. In this play, Hannya, a beautiful woman, becomes the woman scorned. In her rage and jealously she turns into a demonic serpent who wraps her body around the temple bell, consuming it and the priest in the process! Her mask always displays pointed horns, barred teeth and the expression of full wrath. In Noh plays this mask is accompanied with a wild-haired wig, making her a truly formidable protagonist and fearsome sight (please see the last photo in this listing as an example). She is sometimes viewed as a kind of reverse good luck charm; she is so frightening she will drive away all other demons, including your enemies, and thus becomes your protector.