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  • Material

    Wood and lacquer

  • Period

    Edo 18th. C

  • Box



Kitsune Ja (狐蛇)

" The guild artist Kawachi fashioned anocher hornless Hannya at the behest of Sakon Shigenari, tenth grand master of the Kanze troupe. Christened Kitsune Ja and
designated a jun-hommen, this mask is painted gold, too, and therefore closely resembles Deija. A careful comparison reveals a few minor differences, however: the former has a domed forehead with black specks dotting the scalp in place of hair, faint denjo mayu, shalow ridges undulating across the brow, red highlighting of the whites of the eyes, larger ears, and a more feral appearance. Most distinctive are the thick individually carved teeth. Also, veins snake across Deija's temples, whereas Kitsune Ja has no veining.

Kitsune means fox, and Kitsune ja was so named because of the characters it represents; the fox demon of Sesshöseki and the fox spirit of Kokaji. Thus, this mask is worn for kishin rather than onryo roles. As discussed elsewhere, Shigenari also commissioned Kawachi to produce a new young-woman mask, Waka- onna, and an aristocratic-youth mask, Atsumori. Like Kitsune Ja, Waka-onna and Atsumori show no significant departure from existing types (Fushiki-z0 and Jürokn, respectively). Although highly adept at replicating other masks and a master of coloration, the vaunted Kawachi seems to have been totally unable or unwilling to conceive a truly original design.
In addition, the name Kitsune Ja refers to several other masks unrelated to this Kanze troupe jun-honmen. One closely resembles Ja, but the horns are stubbier. This minor derivative was probably made for the fox demon of Sesshöseki, although it is also capable of portraying typical a characters as well; indeed, some sources refer to this mask as Adachi Onna. Another Kitsune a combines the horns and eyes of Ja with the other features of the Kishin (or Kichiku) mask Yakan. It can only represent a fox demon. "

Stephen Martin