Kongou 金剛
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
A gigaku mask *gigakumen 伎楽面 and role paired with that of *Rikishi 力士, representing a strong, brave guardian of good and the brave follower of *Gokou 呉公. Characteristic is the black topknot, intense eyes focused down towards the flaring nose, and the eyebrows which swing fiercely up and back. In the gigaku performances popular in Japan in the 6-12c, he is said to have communicated with his partner, Rikishi, in total mutual understanding. Kongou also appears as a *Niou 仁王 guardian of temple gates, where he is depicted with a clenched mouth. The gentle smiles of both the wood Kongou in the *Shousouin 正倉院 and the Kongou mask among the Houryuuji 法隆寺 treasures lack the aggressiveness of most Niou statues and are more appropriate to Kongou's role in gigaku. The Houryuuji mask shows holes for beard and mustache that were once implanted with hair, and (like Rikishi) this and other Kongou masks are thought to have worn a small crown.


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