Mold for making paper-mache masks

Historical period(s)
Muromachi or Momoyama period, late 16th century
H x W x D (overall): 25.8 x 21.3 x 12.6 cm (10 3/16 x 8 3/8 x 4 15/16 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
Tool and Equipment


Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), Muromachi period (1333 - 1573), 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


The use of masks in dance, court ritual, processions, and religious ceremonies expanded and flourished under the patronage of the Japanese imperial court during the seventh and eighth centuries, when a wide variety of performance, dance, and musical forms reached Japan from Korea, China, Southeast and West Asia. The elaborate carved and polychromed wood masks for these performances were probably produced by the sculptors of Buddhist icons, but in later periods, mask carving became a specialized skill that was often fostered within families.

This large carved form is not fully carved out on the back, and may have been used as a mould over which papier maché was formed to produce simple masks for rural dance performances. A wide variety of masked performances were associated with agricultural rites to ensure an abundant rice harvest.

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