Beshimi mask offering to a Shinto Shrine

Historical period(s)
Momoyama or Edo period, late 16th-17th century
Medium
Wood
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 40.7 x 29.3 x 20 cm (16 x 11 9/16 x 7 7/8 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Collected by Seymour J. Janow and gifted in his memory by his family
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F2003.5.13
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Mask
Type

Mask

Keywords
demon, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), Shinto, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 2003
Seymour J. Janow, Washington, DC, acquired in Japan, to 2003 [1]

From 2003
Freer Gallery of Art, given by the family of Seymour J. Janow in 2003

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Note 1, Ann Yonemura, September 30, 2003, in the object record.

Previous Owner(s)

Mrs. Selma Janow

Label

Masks, considered religious icons in themselves, were not always meant for performances. A believer offered this example to a shrine to accrue divine goodwill. Notice how the eyes have no holes to see through; the mask was never intended to be worn. But this type of mask—called beshimi and used to represent fierce demons and other powerful creatures—was also popular for use in rituals and theater.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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