Wooden Gigaku mask


British Museum

British Museum

Gigaku is a form of masked processional drama to musical accompaniment which was introduced into Japan from China, via Korea, in the seventh century. It was performed in the court and in Buddhist temples. The content of the dramas is a mixture of religion, morality and burlesque.This mask may be that of the youth Taikoji, or it may have been worn by one of the two boys called Shishiko, who led the players carrying the mask and body of the shishi (an imaginary leonine creature) in procession.

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  • Title: Wooden Gigaku mask
  • Date Created: 700/799
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 28.50cm; Width: 7.63in
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted; carved
  • Subject: theatre/theatrical life
  • Registration number: 1954,1021.1
  • Production place: Made in Japan
  • Period/culture: Nara Period
  • Material: wood; gesso; hair
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Chester Beatty, Alfred. Funded by Art Fund. Collected by Howard Hollis & Co.