Nō mask of a young woman

From Japan, 18th-19th century AD

Nō theatre masks are the opportunity for very subtle expression in Japanese sculpture. The wooden masks are carved and then painted. In this case the mask is whitened with a substance containing crushed egg-shell in an adhesive fluid. Finally the hair and features are painted.

The form of modern Japanese Nō performances is closely related to that of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when Nō was developed by the masters Kan'ami and Zeami. There are a number of standard masks which are used in different dramas. The mask itself is more central than in any other drama, and is treated as containing a spirit of its own. A skilfully carved mask like this one will appear to have subtle changes of expression depending on the way in which the wearer turns his head.. This is one of several variations of a young woman mask based on an original design by Zeami. It is signed Norinari and Hōshō Daiyū.

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Nō mask of a young woman

Nō mask of a young woman


More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 21.200 cm

Museum number

Asia JA OA+7105


Gift of Sir A.W. Franks


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