ayakashi 怪士
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Also written 霊神, 網像, 危. Noh masks *noumen 能面, representing a wraith or a violent god. Originally interchangeable with *mikazuki 三日月, it also resembles mikazuki in construction. Round metallic eyes stare out from a bony face. Black wind-swept eyebrows and mustache lend the mask vital energy, and the brownish ochre color gives an impression of vigor. The most prominent difference between ayakashi and mikazuki is the black strip running across the upper rim delineating where a black lacquer hat, kanmuri 冠, rests. Ayakashi and mikazuki masks were used for the same roles, either for gods as in TAKASAGO 高砂 or revengeful ghosts as in FUNABENKEI 船弁慶 (Benkei on the Boat) in the Muromachi period; however, by the Edo period each of the acting schools had established a tradition of using a given mask type for specific roles. Today, though, all five schools again pick from among ayakashi, mikazuki, and other related masks the mask that best suits the actor's intentions. There are many variations on ayakashi, including the fleshy, humanly-rendered chigusa ayakashi 千種怪士, owned by the Kongou 金剛 school and said to be made by the carver chigusa (a fine example owned by the Mitsui 三井 Art Museum, Tokyo); the somewhat troubled shin-no-ayakashi 真怪士 of the Houshou 宝生 school; the ghostly sujiayakashi 筋怪士 with protruding blood vessels; the bulging-eyed, large-boned *togou 東江; the sad shinkaku with wrinkled brow and forehead used primarily by the Konparu 金春 school; and the fearsome rei-no-ayakashi 霊怪士 with whitish coloring, sunken eyes, and skeleton-like features (a Muromachi period example is owned by Houshou). The latter is particularly well-suited to the role of Taira no Tomomori 平知盛 (1152-85) whose ghost seeks revenge on Minamoto no *Yoshitsune 源義経 (1159-89) in the play FUNABENKEI and describes his death in IKARIKAZUKI 碇潜 (Anchor for a Handstone). The Houshou school in Tokyo also owns a kijiru ayakashi 木汁怪士 with fine eyebrows that have a thin curl at the nosebridge and small, crossed eyes, designated an Important Cultural Property.


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