Types of Oriental Tribal Masks

Written by kevin kasarski
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Types of Oriental Tribal Masks
Oriental tribal masks can help uncover how ancient Asian civilisations lived. (masque oriental image by Patrick CRONNE from Fotolia.com)

Oriental tribal masks have become highly collectable and often used as a decorative piece in a home. However, these masks date back to the earliest Asian civilisations and had great importance. Many were used during traditional ceremonies while others were created to represent the wrath of evil in the world. Whatever the purpose, oriental masks were a large part of Asian culture and history and a clue to how people lived in the past.

Gyodo Masks

Gyodo masks dates back to the 12th century and were designed to represent and commemorate important Buddhist figures. They are usually quite large and cover the entire head to represent a powerful deity or superhuman.

Hannya Masks

A Hannya mask has a bold design and represents a jealous women who turned into a demon. It usually includes metallic eyes and teeth, long pointed horns, and a facial expression that displays the feeling of evilness and anger at what this woman has become. There are many variations to the Hannya mask with some being more reddish in colour while others drawing influences from other Asian periods Though all are identifiable by the two long horns that signify jealousy. The Hannya masks date as far back as 1558.

Noh and Kyogen Masks

Noh and Kyogen masks were generally associated with agricultural traditions. These masks display a more comedic expression and are some of the most recognisable oriental tribal masks today. The design was created in the 11th century when comedic performances were implemented into typical agricultural ceremonies.

Shehuo Masks

Another oriental mask that was worn during celebrations or traditional festivals is the Shehuo mask. It was created in the Qin and Han dynasty in China and stayed in use during the Tang and Song dynasties. It was worn during art performances that displayed a person's joy and good wishes unto others.

Ko-omote Masks

The Ko-omote mask, which means small face, represents a women's beauty as she ages. The mask displays a women with neatly groomed hair, shaved eyebrows and full cheeks. The physical characteristics signify the first stage of a women growing old. Shakumi or Fakai masks depict the second stage, which is represented with square eye openings. The third stage, or the old women, has circular eye openings.

Otoko Masks

Otoko masks represent a young man that has been given a high status in life. Similar to the Ko-omote, the Otoko mask have different variations that show what stage in life the male is in. Many times they depict brave warriors while some have aristocratic importance.

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