VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Gigaku Mask
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The mask depicts the face of a wide-eyed mature man with arched eyebrows and a well-defined nose. On the crown of the head is a copper headdress, under which remains a small amount of hair. While sparse, one can also observe traces of fibers under the nose and in the area from the cheeks to jaw, so it is clear that a mustache and beard were once attached to the mask with a kind of glue. The earlobes are elongated and feature earrings, though they do not pierce all the way through the lobes. It is important Cultural Property.

History of the Object
The history of mask-making in Japan as an established craft can be traced back to the masks used in gigaku, a form of dance drama popularized in the Asuka Period (7th century), and to bugaku, a performance art which is thought to have evolved from gigaku. Gigaku, which died out in the medieval era, was performed by silent, masked actors or dancers to the accompaniment of simple musical scores. It was characterized by comical movements and sexual themes.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Color on wood, 1 
Measurements
Width 20.0cm Height 31.5cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 7th century ~ AD 7th century 
Creation date
7th Century; Asuka Period 
Function
theatrical 
Acquisition
This mask was donated to the Imperial Household in 1878 by Horyuji Temple in Nara. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Tokyo National Museum 
Museum
Tokyo National Museum 
Credit line
Tokyo National Museum 

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