Buaku, Kyogen Mask of a Demon, 19th century

Mask C

Title: Kyogen mask of Buaku (demon)
Date: 19th century
Size: 20.5 x 17.2 cm

Carved and painted hinoki (cypress). Kyogen mask of the demon Buaku with a thin, wispy beard and moustache of natural horse hair. Polychrome pigments and gesso over wood. Eyes ringed in gold copper. His eyes are looking upwards and his face is contorting into a menacing expression. Well-worn with external areas showing aged wood patina. Parts of the eyebrows restored and repainted. The beard and moustache have some strands missing. With fabric pouch.

Original Japanese antique.


Kyogen is a form of traditional Japanese theatre that developed as a sort of intermission and comic relief between the solemn noh acts. The kyogen is very short, so costumes, masks, and props are simple and minimal. In kyogen the acting is exaggerated, featuring slapstick and satire, and although the performance is accompanied by the music of flute, drums, and gongs, the main emphasis is on the dialogue and action rather than the music or dance.


The faintly comical demon mask of Buaku is the Kyogen version of the Noh theatre mask of Beshimi. Both the characterization and stylised carving of this mask reflect the original prototype. The mask is carved from a single piece of cypress, with the features in high relief. The eyeballs have had gold copper applied, with the edges emphasized by lines of ink accentuated by the rims. This follows the Noh theatre tradition of colouring the eyes of a demon red or gold.

More Information
Size20.5 x 17.2 cm
SubjectGhosts & Religion
Product Date19th century