KEY WORD : art history / sculptures
Lit. snake. Noh masks *noumen 能面 representing a serpent with long horns and gaping fanged mouth exposing a large red tongue. Bulging metallic eyeballs glare from behind tightly compacted cheek and forehead muscles. Loose strands of the parted black hair lie in wavy strands along the forehead. The prototype for the *hannya 般若 mask. Ja also differs in being the most snake-like and least human, emphasized by the lack of ears despite the depth of modelling. Used exclusively for the jealous woman-turned serpent in special variant performances of DOUJOUJI 道成寺, ja (a good example is owned by the Mitsui 三井 Memorial Museum, Tokyo) and 'true ja' shinja 真蛇 masks (a Muromachi period example designated Important Cultural Property in the Houshoukai 宝生会, Tokyo) come in a variety of styles, including ones colored reddish- brown, ones with white foreheads, and ones with gold skin deija 泥蛇. The last sometimes has small veins protruding from the forehead, fan-like carved eyebrows and ears. In addition 'fox ja' kitsuneja 狐蛇, used by the Kanze 観世 school for the fox spirit in KOKAJI 小鍛冶 and the killer spirit in SESSHOUSEKI 殺生石 (Death Rock), is more fleshy, and though painted gold, has flecks of black dotted over the forehead. It has no horns, but a scowling brow and ears. For the man-eating demoness in KUROZUKA 黒塚 (also ADACHIGAHARA 安達原) a mask with short horns and expression somewhere between ja and hannya called adachi onna 安達女 can be used. 'Male snake' otokoja 男蛇, is used for roles of the dragon god in such plays as KASUGA RYUUJIN 春日竜神 (Dragon King of Kasuga) and sculpturally stands between the ja masks and tobide 飛出 masks. Thick black wisps of eyebrow fly out from the scowling, furrowed brow paralleled by a wild dark moustache. A black strip along the upper rim of the mask replaces any indication of hair.

*onryoumen 怨霊面 

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