|KEY WORD : art history / general terms|
kuregaku 呉楽. Now-lost ancient masked theatrical performances given
at temples from the 7c to 9c. According to the NIHONSHOKI 日本書紀 (Chronicles
of Japan, 720), the art of gigaku was brought to Japan by the Korean
dancer Mimashi 味摩之 in 612 after a trip to the South Chinese country of Wo
(Jp: Go 呉 or Kure) and then became an important ceremony performed at Buddhist
temples throughout Japan. Possibly the first performance was commanded by
Prince Shoutoku 聖徳 ( 574-622; see *Shoutoku
Taishizou 聖徳太子像) at Houryuuji 法隆寺. Since gigaku had died
out by Kamakura period, exact details can only be surmised today through
literary records and extant gigaku masks *gigakumen
伎楽面. Gigaku seems to have consisted of masked actors parading around
the temple grounds followed by a set repertory of short dances or pantomimes,
some religious, others humorous, accompanied by music provided by flute,
gong and drums.
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