No mask, Jo type

Historical period(s)
Momoyama or Edo period, Early 17th century
Wood with colored pigment
H x W x D: 19.9 x 14.3 x 7.7 cm (7 13/16 x 5 5/8 x 3 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Collected by Seymour J. Janow and Gifted in his memory by his Family
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), WWII-era 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


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

Previous Owner(s)

Mrs. Selma Janow


This mask was used for performances of No, a musical dance-drama that developed within troupes who performed under the patronage of Japanese Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Such dramatic entertainments often followed religious ceremonies. Gods in human or supernatural form, ghosts, spirits, and demons are often characters in No plays. Plays often evoke the close interrelationship between gods and spirits and the human world. Masks with generalized features are worn by the male performers to enhance the performance of the role and to create the illusion of transformations onstage. In addition to being colored over a white ground, this mask would have had hair attached to form the moustache and beard. The features of the elderly man are sensitively carved, and the condition is typical for masks of similar age. Inscriptions on the rear indicated that the mask was donated to a Shinto shrine. Performances of No on simple, open-air stages were once widely performed in the precincts of Shinto shrines.

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