Noh and Noh Masks
What is Noh?
Noh is Japan's
oldest theater form. It flourished in the 14th century, but its
origins are rooted in ancient times. Whereas kabuki and bunraku
were for the common people, Noh was for members of the
warrior or samurai class.
The masks worn by the actors are not limited to any one specific role, but are used for various roles in different plays. Though lacking individual expression, the Noh masks' profoundness lies in its sublimation of reality. It combines the symbolic movements of the actor in Noh costumes with the monotonic music to display a unique artistic beauty that make for the profoundness of the Noh experience.
Masks are an integral part of the character's
role in Noh drama. An outstanding feature of Noh
masks is that they convey emotions. Feelings of joy and anger,
humor and pathos, are expressed by a slight change in the angle
of the mask when worn, by the reflection of light, utai (dramatic
chant) and hayashi (the accompaniment of drums and flutes), and
the subtle combination of all of there factors. The mask can
relay sudden violent emotions, and at other times subtle ones.
Although the Noh mask seems expressionless at first glance,
it actually has great potential to convey a limitless number
of facial expressions.
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