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Antique Japanese Okame Noh Mask made out of Shikkui

Antique Japanese Okame Noh Mask made out of Shikkui

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Earthenware: Pre 1900: Item # 55855
Asian Art By Kyoko
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Los Angeles
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Japanese female mask in the style of a Noh mask. This face may have been considered beautyiful many years back, but now it carries a heavy-duty insult to any ladies if they were to be called Otafuku-chan or Okame-san in Japanese. Otafuku-kaze is the mumps and there are popular snack beans called Otafuku-mame, shaped exactly like this face.

Otafuku simply means “much happiness”. Also known as Okame or Uzume, this face has been the symbol of good wishes for health and happiness. Much before the dawn of history in Japan, she is linked to the mythological story of "Ame no Uzume no Mikoto". She was known for performing a lewd and comic dance for us all before a cave, to lure the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami from the cave and thereby restore light unto the earth.

This mask is probably from the Meiji Period (1868-1912). This stucco-like material is called “shikkui”, the mixture of lime powder and a paste made out of seaweeds. The same matial covered the walls of the castles in the Edo period. It is larger than life-size and quite heavy. The dimensions: 11 1/2 inches x 7 1/2 inches x 4 inches