higakionna 桧垣女
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Two noh masks *noumen 能面 used one in the first and the other in the second act of the *nou 能 play HIGAKI 桧垣. Both represent old women, the one in living form, the other after death as a suffering ghost. When the beautiful dancer Higaki was close to a hundred, she was asked to draw water for a nobleman and composed a poem on her deed. After death her spirit repeatedly had to draw water using a hot iron bucket and was consequently scalded by the contents. The first mask, like *roujo 老女, has the hollow cheeks, thin lips and down-cast eyes of age, but also smooth skin without wrinkles evoking a lingering beauty. The hair has alternate strands of white and black, as do the thin eye brows. In contrast to the soft elegance of the living higaki, the ghost Higaki has sharper features, with pointed chin, sunken eyes, down-turned mouth, and numerous loose strands of black hair. The rounded eyes with gold-painted pupils and the gold-tipped teeth make this mask appear like an older version of *deigan 泥眼. Since both higaki masks are variants of standard masks, ryoujo and *ryouonna 霊女 respectively, and used for only one play, examples are rare, but one fine Higaki of the second type is property of the Tokugawa 徳川 Art Museum, Aichi prefecture. See also *onnamen 女面; compare to *komachi 小町, *yaseonna 痩女.


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