These masks were designed and carved by Hideta Kitazawa (b1968). Kitazawa has been making masks for Japan’s nō, kagura and kyōgen theatre traditions for over 20 years and is internationally recognised for his expertise and adventurous approach to contemporary mask-making. Like his father Ikkyou Kitazawa, the artist also specialises in Shinto temple carvings and has completed commissions for Japan’s imperial family. Kitazawa’s masks are chiselled by hand from Japanese cypress (hinoki) and paulownia (kiri) before being painted and lacquered.
Nō is a complex form of dance theatre with a centuries-old history but possibly preceded by kagura, a Shinto theatre form. Lengthy, austere nō performances are often interspersed with short humorous spoken kyōgen performances based on folktales. The masks represent characters from the supernatural realms of Japanese legend: a water-dwelling kappa with a love of cucumbers, a magical shapeshifting white tenko fox, a red oni demon, a long-nosed tengu with exceptional skill in martial arts, and a long-horned hannya demoness.
cypress (hinoki), paint; carving
24.5 x 17.0 x 9.5 cm
Roger Pietri Fund 2019
© Kitazawa Hideta
Shown in 1 exhibition
Japan Supernatural, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Nov 2019–08 Mar 2020