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okinamen@‰¥–Ê
KEY WORD :@art history / sculptures
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Proto noh masks *noumen ”\–Ê used in the three-piece ritual SHIKISANBA Ž®ŽO”Ô, also known today as OKINA ‰¥. The ritual, which reaches back to important performances imported from China in the 7c and 8c and was incorporated into court functions, appears in its abbreviated three-piece form already in Heian period records. Originally an agricultural purification and fertility rite, the piece took on Buddhist implications in the Heian period, being performed by itinerant priests. By the 14c the sarugaku \Šy players (forerunners of nou actors) had taken over the performance, and today it is part of the nou repertory as well as being performed as a part of shrine festivals throughout the country. The main characters are the white old man *okina ‰¥, celebrating peace on earth, the black old man *sanbasou ŽO”Ô™Õ blessing the five grains and the fertile ground, and the father old man *chichinojou •ƒˆÑ, symbolizing longevity. When the sarugaku players began performing the pieces, they added a preliminary role of a young man to sweep away evil from the area tsuyuharai ˜I•¥, who wore the 'brother long life' mask of *enmeikaja ‰„–½Š¥ŽÒ. Today this role is usually taken by a young, unmasked character, senzai çÎ, but as his name 'age of 1000 ' suggests, the implications are the same. The three basic old man roles have come to be seen as symbolic of such things as gods of rice, of renewal and of ancestry, or the three central Buddhas, or the three rules of Buddhism (the law, hou –@, reward and retribution, hou •ñ, and obedience, ou ‰ž), or the three religions (Shintoism , Buddhism, and Confucianism), or three Shinto deities (Amaterasu Oomikami “VÆ‘å_, Hachiman Daibosatsu ”ª”¦‘å•ìŽF, and Kasuga Daimyoujin t“ú‘å–¾_), or the three races of the world.
Despite great variety in the texts and performance traditions of the piece, the okina masks found scattered around Japan have definite similarities. All three old men's masks have separate lower jaws *kiriago ØŠ{, attached to the main mask with a cord. This structural device they share with the bugaku mask *bugakumen •‘Šy–Ê of an old man *Saisourou ÌŒK˜V, and with Korean masks, but not with other noh masks. Another similarity with bugaku and Korean masks is the formation of the eyes as open slits, rather than sculpting the eyeball and boring a hole for the pupil. In addition, the abstract patternization of the deeply carved wrinkles around the forehead and cheeks on okina masks contrasts sharply with the realistic portrayal typical of other nou masks of old men, but is similar to saizourou. Contrast to other nou plays extends to the use of the masks in performance. While in a standard nou, the mask is donned off stage and the performer allows it to dominate his identity, for OKINA, the masks are set up as objects of worship before the performance, carried on stage in a box, and donned during the performance. The actor's carriage and walk change from his own to that of the god in the mask when he puts it on.
The prototypes for okina masks predate all other nou masks by several centuries, early examples being attributed to the carvers (dates unknown) Nikkou “úŒõ, Kasuga t“ú, and Miroku –íèÓ. Both the masks and the performance of the OKINA pieces laid the foundations for the development of the art of nou performance.
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