2015.28.4 .1

Finished Noh mask depicting a young woman. One of a series of masks showing the methods used to produce a Noh mask. [SM (Verve) 10/9/2015]

Place details: ASIA. Japan. Honshu Tokyo. Cultural Group: Japanese Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Wood Plant / Pigment / Lacquer Varnish Plant / ?. Processes: Carved / Inscribed / Painted / Lacquered Varnished / Drilled / ?. Dimensions: Max L = 211 mm Max W = 138 mm Maker: Hideta Kitazawa Field Collector: Unknown When Collected: 2015 Other Owners: Hideta Kitazawa PRM Source: Hideta Kitazawa Acquired: Purchased September 2015 PRM Image: Collections Digital Reference Photo 10/9/2015

KEYWORD: Mask / Inscription / CLASS: Mask / Writing / ?.

Object description: Finished Noh mask depicting a young woman. One of a series of masks showing the methods used to produce a Noh mask. The mask is carved from a single piece of Japanese cypress (Hinoki) wood. It has a carved signature in the back of the forehead. The back has been painted with Urushi lacquer. [SM (Verve) 10/9/2015]

Day book entry - ASIA, JAPAN, TOKYO Wooden box with lid containing three Noh masks in various stages of manufacture. Each mask is in a padded brocade bag. Commissioned for the woodwork display in the Lower Gallery of the Museum. Part of the VERVE project. Made by Hideta Kitazawa.

Related Documents File - Correspondence with the maker Hideta Kitazawa detailing the methods used in construction. [SM (Verve) 10/9/2015]



Display history: Pitt Rivers Museum display label from L.61.A – Woodwork [January 2016 - current] ‘Noh mask under construction, Tokyo, Japan. Noh is a Japanese theatrical tradition that dates to the 13th century. Since Noh masks only depict a character’s essential traits, they are brought to life by the craftsman’s nuanced use of carving and colouring, and by the actors’ skill. Commissioned from Hideta Kitazawa by the Museum in 2015; 2015.28.2–.4. Photographs of Hideta at work taken by Sohta Kitazawa; 2015.29.6, 2015.29.13 and 2015.29.18’ and ‘Stage 3: Natural mineral pigments in red and yellow, as well as black Chinese ink, are used to paint details such as hair, eyes, and lips. The high eyebrows and black teeth reflect historical Japanese make-up; ohaguro – colouring the teeth black with lacquer – was popular among aristocratic married women until the Meiji era (late 19th century).’ [MJD (Verve) 4/1/2016]

Research notes: Notes in the Related Documents File provided by the maker Hideta Kitazawa "The Wood (Hinoki) I use Hinoki wood (Japanese Cypress) for making noh masks. It is found only in one small mountainous, deep valley region in Japan, called Kiso, located near Nagoya. Kiso’s harsh climate (with a lot of snow in winter) causes the Japanese Cypress tree to grow very slowly and produces beautiful annual rings. We usually use Hinoki wood that is approximately 200-300 years old and has been stored in suitably dry conditions. This means that the wood is both strong and lightweight. The timber merchant that I use only supplies Hinoki wood. I have a very good relationship with this timber supplier – and they always supply me with the best quality wood.

The first stage of Noh-mask making. A basic pattern is copied onto a block of Hinoki wood (Japanese cypress). This picture shows the outline patterns, the block of Hinoki wood, and a range of my mask-making tools. Saw work on the outline. The larger areas of excess wood are removed using a ‘pulling method’ with a Japanese saw to create the outline of the mask.

The rough carving. Two types of chisels are used in traditional Japanese style carving - the ends of the handles on my ‘rough carving chisels’ have metal discs to protect them, as they are hit with a hammer. For the rough carving stage I start carving from the nose, then move to eyes and the month - always bearing in mind the overall balance of the mask. The finished carving. I finish the carving carefully by hand, using ‘finishing chisels’.

The back of the mask. After I have finished carving the front of the mask, I carve the back of the mask until it is smooth. The back of the mask has to be carved carefully as it is very important, for a noh-performer that the mask feels comfortable. I paint the back of the mask with Urushi lacquer (Urushi is made from the sap of the Japanese Urushi tree). It makes the mask strong and protects the mask from the performer’s perspiration.

The way I sharpen my chisels. I use a whetstone, which is first soaked in water, to sharpen my chisels. There are different types of whetstone. I use a red stone (which is rough) initially, followed by a darker coloured stone, which is smoother, for finishing. These are natural stones found in Japan.

The basic painting. I make a basic white pigment for the initial layer of paint by mixing Gofun (a fine white powder made from ground oyster shells) together with Nikawa (a natural glue made from rendered cow’s skin and bone). I give the mask 2-3 coats of this and then rub down the surface with fine-grain sandpaper. I repeat this process about 10 times until the surface of the mask is perfectly smooth.

The finished painting. I add red (made from a natural mineral) and yellow (a natural soil) pigments to the white pigment to create the finishing colour of face of the mask. I, then, paint in the detailed parts of the mask, such as, the hair, eyebrows, eye lines and teeth using black Chinese ink, and the lips are painted red. Placing the eyebrows high on the mask, and using black for the teeth is an old Japanese ‘make-up’ custom. The antique-look is created using a thin, dark, water-based ink." [SM (Verve) 10/9/2015]

Other information: See entries 2015.28.1-.4 for box, Noh masks and bags. [SM (Verve) 10/9/2015]

For padded bag for this mask see entry 2015.28.3.2 [SM (Verve) 10/9/2015]