Collection online

theatre mask

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Mask for bugaku performace. Ryo-o. Made of lacquered and gilt wood; also hair.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 17thC
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 33.5 centimetres (excl.chin piece)
  • Curator's comments

    Smith et al 1990

    Bugaku is a ritual courtly dance which has survived since the Heian period. It was appreciated also by the samurai and intellectual middle classes during the later Edo period. The chin piece is worn loose dangling from cords, so that its swinging motion gives added life to the already fierce expression of the mask.

    The character of the 'Dragon King' derives from the story of a Chinese king of the Northern Qi dynasty (AD 550-77) who was so handsome that he had to wear a fearful mask into battle so that his enemies would be terrified and his allies would not be distracted.


  • Bibliography

    • Edo BM 1982 113 bibliographic details
    • Smith et al 1990 137 bibliographic details
    • Mack 1994 89 bibliographic details
    • Smith & Harris 1982 col. pl. 6 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G93/dc6/sD

  • Exhibition history


    2006 Oct 13-, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Dragon King
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Bugaku mask of Ryo-O, the 'Dragon King'


COMPASS Title: Bugaku mask of Ryo-O, the 'Dragon King'

Image description



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Object reference number: JCR9118

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