Genjouraku 還城楽
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Return to the castle dance, Alternative names: Genkyouraku 環京楽 (Return to Capital Dance), Genjouraku 還成楽 (Return of One of High Rank Dance), or Kenjaraku 見蛇楽 (Snake Viewing Dance). A *bugaku 舞楽 piece and mask *bugakumen 舞楽面 with large, red, bestial face. Classification (for terms see bugaku): A dynamic dance hashirimai 走舞 of the Right unomai 右舞 thought to have been imported from China (and so an exception to the standard classification) which is performed by one person dressed in a fringed tunic and pantaloons, ryoutou shouzoku 裲襠装束. The dancer holds a stick in one hand and circles around a wooden snake, as illustrated in the 12c. sketches of old performances, Shinzei kogaku-zu 信成古楽図, in Tokyo University of Fine Arts. Later he grabs the snake in his hand and jubilantly prances about. The dance may have its roots in Indian snake rituals, or be meant to express the delight of a western barbarian at capturing a morsel of his favorite dish. Alternatively, Chinese records indicate that a dance of this name was performed as a commemoration of the victory of Emperor Xuanzong (Jp: *Gensou 玄宗, reigned 712-56). Genjouraku as a victory dance was also retained in Japan. Comparatively many Genjouraku masks remain, since like *Batou 抜頭 companion dance, the popularity of the dance started already in the 8c, and along with *Ryouou 陵王 and *Nasori 納曽利, it numbers among the most often performed bugaku dances today. Numerous provincial specimens of the mask dating from 13c to 16c indicate the geographical spread of the dance into outlying areas of Japan. The mask of Genjouraku is large, with a helmet-like forehead vividly bulging with lumps of flesh, sometimes embellished with jagged blood vessels. The heavy, curved eyebrows form a projecting shield below which a separately carved face plate *doubou 動貌 with round eyes, wrinkled cheeks and large snub nose is hung in such a way that it jiggles up and down with the movements of the dance. The rounded chin is also carved separately and attached so that it can swing *tsuriago 吊顎. Orthodox examples of the mask follow this construction, such as that at Atsuta Jinguu 熱田神宮 (1178), Aichi prefecture and the tighter, fiercer one at Houryuuji 法隆寺 (1144), Nara. Particularly fine is the one at Itsukushima Jinja 厳島神社, Hiroshima prefecture, by Shamon Gyoumyou 沙門行明 (1173). Provincial masks, however, often show an ingenuity in by-passing the complexities of the construction of the mask. A Genjouraku in Kushibiki Hachimanguu 櫛引八幡宮, Aomori prefecture, for instance, has enlarged the central plate to the size and form of a standard mask, adding movable eyes *dougan 動眼, and then topped this with a shape very much like a football helmet encompassing the eyebrows, forehead and sideburns.


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