Stage (Butai) The raising and lowering of the Five-Colored curtain that leads from
the mirror room marks the beginning and end of a Noh performance. Woven
of damask in five colors - purple, white, red, yellow, and green - the
curtain symbolizes the Five Elements - earth, water, fire, wind, and
air - which separate this world from that of the Pure Land.
The raising and lowering of the Five-Colored curtain that leads from the mirror room marks the beginning and end of a Noh performance. Woven of damask in five colors - purple, white, red, yellow, and green - the curtain symbolizes the Five Elements - earth, water, fire, wind, and air - which separate this world from that of the Pure Land.
Music Calls (Kake-goe)
Noh - Masks and Costumes
There is a Japanese expression
which describes an impassive face as being
"like a Noh mask".
| Mask Making
Noh masks are carved from a single piece of Japanese cypress. It is coated more than forty times with a mixture of gesso and glue and then painted with colors that have been established through long Noh traditions. The outline of the hair and eyes is drawn in black ink. Throughout this process, the carver continually checks the mask and its reaction to the light in the theater where it is to be used. Robes (Shozoku)
Noh costumes are called Shozoku or robes. Regardless of the character being represented the costumes must always create an effect of luxury and elegance. They must give the characters a sculptural presence. Garments are layered and textured, with wide sleeves to accommodate expansive gestures. They are made of stiff materials so that their patterns can not be deformed by folds.
|Some kata - such as slashing
with a halberd, thrusting with a sword, reading a book - are realistic.
Other kata are symbolic - for example, raising the hands to the face and lowering them to express weeping; walking in standing motion to show travel; turning the mask left and then right to symbolize searching; or turning the head upwards and to the side meaning looking at the moon.
Others still are very formal - extending the fan; stamping on the stage to make it resound; opening the arms; or moving in zigzag to mark the start and finish of a dance.
| Voice (Utai)
Utai is a form of song or poem composed of phrases consisting of twelve syllables; an amount easily pronounced in one breath. This is a fundamental rhythmic unit in all traditional forms of Japanese poetry. It harmonizes with the eight-beat measure used by the Noh musicians.
In the first half of the 15th century, Zeami Motokiyo wrote the Book of the Flower, or Fushikaden, and twenty other treatises in which he explored the principles, aesthetic and philosophical, governing the production of Noh.
Noh's theatrical message is neither moral nor narrative, it is simply an expression of beauty.
The achievement of hana, or the "flower", is the goal of every Noh performer.
the Way of the Noh,
is not only a commitment and a discipline,
but a practice of humility.