VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Gigaku-Mask Kongō
MVK 110876
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Besides the expressive facial features of this mask, its rarity makes it a special object. Today, only about 300 Gigaku-masks still exist world wide. Kongō is a Buddhist guardian god and protector of the temple gates. The mask shows his characteristically red face with demoniac features, a big nose, long ears, and tied up hair.

History of the Object
This object is one of the two Gigaku-masks the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este acquired on his journey around the world in 1892/93. In a total Franz Ferdinand brought back over 9000 artifacts from Asia which were later integrated into the ethnographic collections of the museum.

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Type
Performance Art 
Materials
wood (paulownia), dry lacquer, paint 
Measurements
Height 32 cm  
Creator name
unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 9th century ~ AD 9th century 
Creation date
9th Century; Heian-period 
Function
Mask for Gigaku masked dance. Gigaku was a dance drama with central Asian influences which was introduced to Japan in the 8th century from China via Korea. While later masks only cover the face, Gigaku-masks cover the whole head including the ears. Gigaku dances were usually performed as part of rituals at Buddhist temples. 
Acquisition
Originally part of the Austrian Imperial collection, and later integrated into the museum's collections. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, Republic of Austria 
Museum
Weltmuseum Wien 
Credit line
 

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