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Michel Lara @VeraCausa9
, 11 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Moon reminds me of
that actor who played Noh
without a mask

-Basho [1644–1694]
Full Moon at Bitchū Kokubun-ji Temple, Okayama, Japan [1]
What Basho is referring to in his poem is that not all Noh performers wear masks. Because the waki ["supporting"] plays a character who is living in the present, he does not wear a mask. This is called hitamen or a "direct mask". [2]
Noh masks [noh-men] are deceptively expressionless, they are rather windows to the soul that with the slightest change in tilt and lighting can bring forth an array of hidden emotions. Noh masks are imbued with both yūgen ["the mysterious"] & seishin-sei ["spiritual depth"].
This is the same female Noh mask at different angles showing how the expression/mood changes with the tilting of the head. Slightly tilting the mask with terasu (tilting upwards) the mask appears smiling or laughing while kumorasu (tilting downwards) bring forth sadness or anger.
Noh Mask tilting techniques: Terasu literally means “to shine" and is used to communicate brighter emotions such as happiness[tilting upwards] while Kumorasu literally means "to cloud" used to communicate emotions like sadness [tilting downwards] [1]
In putting the Noh mask on, the performer undergoes a dramatic transformation. Japanese word tsukeru (to attach) is used to denote that very moment the performer “becomes” the mask, now carved as one w/ all the undiscovered & unexpressed emotions the performance will bring forth.
Noh masks (能面 nō-men) are carved from blocks of Japanese cypress (檜 "hinoki") & painted w/ natural pigments on a neutral base of glue & crunched seashell. This is one of the 60 types of Noh masks: (White) Okina Hakushikijyo, an older man w/ long white beard expressing wisdom.
Here are represented the duality of female Noh characters expressed through two masks: First the young & beautiful Ko-omote ("little mask") while Hannya represents a jealous & sorrowful female demon.

Noh Masks held by Japanese model Yamaguchi Akiko-2011 photos by Irwin Wong
This is an excellent article on the enigmatic allure of the Noh theater.

Mysterious Encounters: The Muted Dynamism of Noh… via @PDXJapaneseGdn
Finishing this thread with these two wonderful TV programs on Noh theater-Enjoy!

1- 'The Spirit of Noh'

2- 'Noh Theater' via Japanology Plus [NHK World]
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