Sanbasou 三番叟
KEY WORD : art history / 1 paintings, 2 sculptures
1 A pictorial subject taken from the auspicious *kabuki 歌舞伎 play which is based on the *nou 能 play OKINA 翁. The features three roles: the title character Okina, an old man who performs a solemn dance; Senzai 千歳; and Sanbasou, whose dynamic kyougen 狂言 derived dance formed the basis for the kabuki shosagoto 所作事 dance that would bear his name. The dance is a celebration of long life, and is related to prayers for an abundant harvest. This is implicit in its use of dance styles such as tanemaki 種蒔 (sowing seeds) and toritobi 鳥飛び (flying birds). The play traditionally is performed at the dedication of a new theatre and during the first three days of the new year. There are many *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 illustrations of Sanbasou especially actor prints *yakusha-e 役者絵. In addition, the auspicious character of the play led to the creation of *mitate-e 見立絵 featuring women and children, typically in *surimono 摺物.

2 Also kokushikijou 黒色尉. The black faced mask of a happy old man used in nou and festival performances of the play OKINA 翁, also known as SHIKISANBA 式三番. Very similar in conception to the white okina masks (*okina 翁, *okinamen 翁面), sanbasou has wrinkles lining his forehead and cheeks in patternized curves. The mirthful slit eyes and smiling mouth with a few stubs of teeth, as well as the severed and reattached chin *kiriago 切顎 define both masks. The eyebrows are tufts of horsehair, as is the beard and wispy moustache. Sanbasou masks, some used on the nou stage, others for festival performances, tend to be smaller than white okina masks. A very fine example from the 14c. with an inscription attributing it to the early carver Nikkou 日光 (dates unknown) is owned by the Umewaka 梅若 family in Tokyo and designated an Important Cultural Property. The mask is worn for the second part of the second dance performed by sanbasou, the SUZU-NO-DAN 鈴の段, which celebrates fertility.

*noumen 能面, *chichinojou 父尉 

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