WOODWORK > Carving

Noh Japanese mask
Noh Japanese mask
Banyan tree wood from Indonesia
8" x 10"

Noh mask

Wood masks have been used in a thousand years old form of Japanese musical drama theater called Noh. These masks, usually carved out of blocks of cypress wood, are a key part of the tradition, representing many characters, like demons and monks.

UNESCO has recognised Noh theater as a "Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", and major Noh actors are celebrated in Japan as "Intangible Cultural Assets".

I carved this mask using photographs out of a block of Banyan tree wood, a deep red, fibrous wood considered sacred in Indonesia and rarely cut down. It was a difficult wood to use for mask carving, but I wanted to use it because of its symbolic significance in Indonesia combined with the symbolic significance of this mask in Japan.