Hashihime 橋姫 [literally "bridge princess"]

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This mask is named after a lost play that literaly translates as "Bridge Princess," Hashihime is heir to a complicated mix of oral and written traditions. The theme of a spurned woman haunting a bridge makes its appearance in such works as the poetry anthology Kokin Wakashū (905/914) and The Tale of Heike (Heike monogatari, 13th century). The version that seems to supply the basis for the mask, and is incorporated into the noh play Kanawa, relates how a woman, enraged by jealousy, goes to the Kibune Shrine and petitions the gods to turn her into a demon so that she can have revenge. Her thick furrowed brows cast a shadow over intense metallic eyes that stare straight ahead. The pale forehead gives way to dark reddish brown on the lower half of the face, symbolizing her extreme anger. Gold painted teeth are clearly visible in a grimacing mouth, and disordered strands of painted hair on the forehead and cheeks heighten the impression of intense emotional turmoil. The 15th century carver Yasha is known for his beastial masks, including hashihime. A Muromachi period mask designated an Important Cultural Property and serving as a model (honmen) for later copies is owned by the Hōshōkai, Tokyo. See nōmen, onryōmen. Compare to hannya. [MB]

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