Shugyoku - 5586

Shugyoku - Japan

Nō actor Playing the Role of Okina
Second half, 19th century
3,8x2,5x1,5 cm
秀玉 (Shugyoku)
2005 bequest Maria Taglietti Lanfranchi
Inv. 5586

This netsuke, in lacquered ivory partially gilded, is a depiction of a Nō (能) actor in Okina's (翁, old man) role, with a traditional mask, and a folding fan (chukei, 中啓) opened in his right hand. The upper part of the dress is decorated with a geometric motif of rhomboidal shape, each one with a corolla of stylized flowers inside. The trousers, on the other hand, are adorned with a series of phoenixes among clouds. The two himotoshi holes, one near the other one and of similar size, are placed on the rear, near the pelvis. The signature Shugyoku (秀玉) is carved under the right foot.

The Nō theatre arose around the 18th century as an aristocratic art form made of suggestion, grace and abstraction: subjects were inspired by the ancient Japanese history and more rarely by the Chinese one;  Buddhism, mainly in his Zen version, penetrated all its  performances. Women were not allowed on the stage and hence female roles were interpreted by male actors who disguised themselves with wigs and, above all, masks.

The theme of Nō theatre actors is proposed in another netsuke of the Lanfranchi collection made by Komin.


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