ryouonna 霊女
KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
A noh mask *noumen 能面 representing the suffering spirit of a woman who dies from love problems. The intensity of her emotion dooms her to torment in hell, but in some plays it also becomes the source of her salvation. Wan and weary from constant suffering, ryouonna's thin face lacks power. The lips are loosely open, the eyes, though tinted with gold or red suggesting a supernatural intensity, stare down blankly. The thin, almost invisible eyebrows cut the forehead with two straight, angled lines. The black hair has three strands coming from the center part and another three from above the ears.
Ryouonna is used by all schools of noh for the ghosts of women suffering in hell, such as appear in the second act of TEIKA 定家, MOTOMEZUKA 求塚, and KINUTA 砧. The invention of the mask type is attributed to the 15c carver Himi 氷見 (see *jissaku 十作). A Momoyama period ryouonna with oval face, boney cheeks and a suggestion of lower teeth is housed in the Seki Kasuga Jinja 関春日神社, Gifu prefecture. See also *onnamen 女面; compare to *komachi 小町, *higakionna 桧垣女, *uba 姥, *yaseonna 痩女, *roujo 老女.


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