Hiding in public, part one

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Japanese Noh masks

Obeshimi (demon mask), wood, Japan, mid 19th century. Obeshimi (demon mask), wood, Japan, mid 19th century.

A few months ago I visited the very inspiring Musée du quai Branly in Paris. I recommend it to anybody who is interested in anthropology or ethnography. Or disconcerting masks and dolls, because they have tons of those. They’ve published a great book called Masks: Masterpieces from the musée du quai Branly. The text is by the splendidly named Yves Le Fur, with photos by Sandrine Expilly. I’m going to reproduce a few scans, but the book is worth a look if– as mentioned previously– you’re one of those creepy mask people like me. I’ll also be sharing some of my own photos from the collection. All the ones by me will be clearly marked, otherwise credit goes to Expilly.

This time I’m concentrating on Noh (能) masks from Japan. Noh is the extremely formalised theatre that originated…

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