Ayakiri 綾切
KEY WORD : art h istory / sculptures
Also written 阿夜岐理 and called Aikirijo 愛嗜女. A dance piece in *bugaku 舞楽 and a bugaku mask of a beautiful young woman (see *bugakumen 舞楽面).

1 A quiet dance, hiramai 平舞, of the Right, u-no-mai 右舞, introduced from Korea komagaku 高麗楽 and performed by four people dancing in unison, or by six aligned to form a hexagon. Although the origin of the dance is unclear, the 13c. treatise on bugaku, KYOUKUNSHOU 教訓抄 by Koma Chikazane 狛近真 (1177-1242), describes it as using a female form with white masks. The dance seems to have gone out of fashion, and when revived switched genders. The costume is a standard layered costume, kasaneshouzoku 襲装束, with bird helmet, torikabuto 鳥甲. Even when danced by men, the choreography retains a softness and tranquility.

2 The most elegant of Ayakiri masks, a set of four at Sumiyoshi Taisha 住吉大社 in Osaka have gentle, rounded, feminine features. Differing only slightly in detail, they all have small, demure lips, dainty noses, and elegant eyebrows. The placid expression and down-turned eyes suggest similarities to bodhisattva *bosatsu 菩薩, statues of the Heian period. No other extant Ayakiri masks have the same grace. Three Kamakura period masks at Houryuuji 法隆寺 are heavy set. Four masks labeled Ayakiri at Itsukushima Jinja 厳島神社 represent old men, and those used for performances today are of elegant young men.


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