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Lot 1818a


Estimated Value:

1.500 € - 2.500 €


1.942 € incl. Premium and VAT


Japan, possibly Muromachi period
H. 34,5/ B. 25 cm
The large head of almost demonic appearance bears a high forehead with prominent veins, large eyes underneath bushy browns, a short bulbous nose and wide mouth with two rows of teeth and large human ears. Pigments above a layer of gofun, the colour of the face generally black, the forehead of a greenish colour and the corners of the eyes painted red.
Old Berlin private collection, assembled before 2000
The gigaku dance was a masked drama-dance performance imported from China into Japan in the Asuka period (538-710). It consisted of a sequence of pantomimes, often of burlesque character, which were preceded by a procession. Gigaku was performed at the court as well as at temple festivities. The dancers wore very large masks which covered the entire head and were carved of kiri wood or made of kanshitsu. Sets of gigaku masks have been preserved in the Shôsoin, and the temples Todaiji and Horyûji. Gigaku masks represent figures originating in Central Asian, China and in Buddhism. The mask type named Kuron or Konron represents a man from the Kunlun Mountains in Western China. In an exhibitionist pantomime he represents a lecher who molests young women. After unsuccessful in defending themselves Kongô Rikishi comes to the women’s aid and tears out Kuron’s penis. The Kuron mask is represented in different ways sometimes taking on an animal appearance, sometimes a more human one
Cf. Heinz Lucas, Japanische Kultmasken, Der Tanz der Kraniche, Kassel 1956, p. 49, fig. 13
Slightly chipped, losses to paint