Wikipedia

Gigaku

Gigaku (伎楽), also known as kure-gaku (呉楽)[1] refers to an extinct genre of masked drama-dance performance, imported into Japan during the Asuka period.

History [ edit ]

Records state that it was introduced during the 20th year of reign of Empress Suiko (612.[1][2]) by a certain Mimaji (Mimaji (味摩之))[1][3] from Kudara kingdom (Baekje), one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea arrived in Sakurai and taught gigaku to the Japanese youth [4]. It is said that he had studied in Wu (China) and learned gigaku, showing that ties of gigaku can be traced back to China as during the time period the Japanese admired Chinese and Korean cultures and were heavily influenced by them [5]. The regent at the time, Shotoku, played a decisive role in allowing and diffusing Buddhist culture within Japan, this spread of culture allowed gigaku to be performed and viewed by many Japanese individuals as it promoted the religion [6]. Gigaku peaked during the first half of the eighth century but began to disappear when bugaku took over as the official entertainment of the imperial palace, though gigaku was still performed and taught in areas far from the capital and continued to play a role in Japanese entertainment until up to the fourteenth century [7]. Many wooden gigaku masks were painted at this time, most dating from the Nara Period (710-84), and are now preserved at Hōryūji and Tōdaiji temples and the imperial treasure house (Shōsōin), all in Nara [8]. Masks were an integral aspect of gigaku theatre and represented various characteristics and properties and later influenced other parts of Japanese theatre. The history of gigaku is often widely debated as there is no documentation of gigaku in mainland Asia aside from a few delicate masks that remain, this lack of strong evidence often makes it difficult for researchers to decipher the true origins of gigaku and its processes, characters, plots, and performances.

Performance [ edit ]

The masked dance was performed in silent mime,[1] to the accompaniment of music.[1] The flute, waist drum (or hip drum;[9] (yōko (腰鼓)), also known as kuretsuzumi (呉鼓, "Wu(China) drum")[1]), and shōban (鉦盤), a type of gong, were the three instruments used in the Nara Period, though the gong was superseded by a type of cymbal (dobyōshi (銅鈸子)) in the early Heian Period (9th century).[10]

About the only surviving description of the performance comes from the musical treatise forming a part of the Kyōkunshō [ja] (『教訓抄』; "Selections for Instructions and Admonition" [9]) authored by Koma no Chikazane [ja] (died 1242).[1] According to this, the netori or tuning of instruments signals the start, followed by a prelude of instruments.[9] Then there is a parading of the whole cast, both dancers and instrumentalists.[3] It has been speculated that the character mask named Chidō (治道) "Govern the way" probably took position at the front of the parade,[11] especially as this mask is listed first off in the assets ledgers (Shizaichō (資材帳)) for some of the temples that house gigaku masks.[11] The program opens with the Lion Dance (Shishimai),[9] and solo dances by the Duke of Wu,[9] wrestler, the birdman karura, and the Brahman priest.

Archetypes [ edit ]

There are two wrestler archetype characters, the Kongō (金剛) or "Vajra-yakṣa" who is open-mouthed,[12] and the Rikishi (力士) who is closed mouthed.[12][13] These two are said to be analogous to the two Niō or guardian gate statues, who respectively form the open and closed A-un shapes in their mouths.[12][13] Rikishi and Konron masks are often mixed up due to their similar features, they possess a darker complexion, bulging eyes, large mouths and jutting teeth [14]. These masks can be differentiated through their facial expressions as the Konron is less aggressive than Rikishi.



With the exaggerated features of many of the masks, the content of the play is described as being farcical.[9] Indeed, the two-part play of the Kuron (崑崙) (or Konron; Chinese:Kunlun nu which denotes a black man or negrito[15]) and the Rikishi (wrestler or "Strong Man") is outright obscene.[9]

In the ribald performance, the lascivious Kuron falls in lust for the Gojo (Wu woman or Chinese maiden), and expresses his desire by holding up his phallic prop called marakata (陽物(マラカタ)), and beating it with his hand fan.[13] The comic dance maneuvers are referred to as marafuri-mai (マラフリ舞, "phallus-swinging dance"). In subsequent development, the Kuron is subdued by the Rikishi who binds the Kuron by his equipment (marakata), and drags him along by the noose around his manhood.[13]

Masks [ edit ]

Gigaku masks from Horyuji temple
  • Chidō (治道) "Govern the way" - Leads the procession part. This mask has been suggested as perucursor of the depiction of Tengu masks[11] TNM (ex-Horyuji) quarter view It was a red headed mask with a wide mouth, long nose, wide bulging eyes, dark brows and sometimes contained few whiskers on the chin [16].
  • Shishi (師子) "lion" - Lion mask with movable jaw, ear, eyes,[17] similar in appearance to the mask from Shishimai lion dance. The mask contained tiny ears applied to a large circular face, a red tongue and snout, white teeth, brown, red, or green [18].
  • Shishiko (師子児) "lion tamers" - Usually two tamers accompany each lion[19]TNM (ex-Horyuji) (ex-Horyuji) and another tamer, TNM (ex-Horyuji)
  • Gokō (呉公) "Duke of Wu"[9] - TCM (ex-Horyuji)
  • Kongō (金剛) "Vajra-yakṣa)" - Topknotted wrestler, wide-eyed and flexed eyebrows, open-mouthed. Serves Lord of Wu.[12] ex-Horyuji, Cultural Heritage Online
  • Karura (迦楼羅) "Garuḍa"[9] - TNM (ex-Horyuji)
  • Kuron (崑崙) "Kunlun (black man)" - TNM
  • Gojo (呉女) "Wu woman" or "Chinese maiden"[9] - TNM (8th century)
  • Rikishi (力士) "wrestler" or "Strong Man"[9] - Topknotted wrestler like Kongo, but closed-mouthed.[12] TNM (ex-Horyuji)
  • Baramon (波羅門) "Brāhmaṇa" priests[9] -TNM (ex-Horyuji)
  • Taikofu (太弧父) "old widower" - [20]TNM
  • Taikoji (太弧児) "old widower's child" - TNM
  • Suikoō (酔胡王) "drunken Persian king" or "Drunken Hu barbarian"[9] - TNM
  • Suikojū (酔胡従) "drunken Persian's followers" - about 6~8 of them accompany the drunken Persian king.[21] TNM

Influence [ edit ]

Many of these masks also influenced other Japanese theatre forms, Noh, for example particularly has masks very similar to the gigaku masks of goko and gojo [22]. The well resemblance of gojo can be seen in the well known Noh mask of Koomote as well as Chido and Konron to the ghost and demon masks with their stark, exaggerated, and frightening features [23]. Though these masks share similarities it is important to note that there are also differences with them, for example the masks of Noh are much smaller in comparison to gigaku, this is also the case with bugaku (the emerging theatre form after gigaku).

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Shinchosha 1985, p.357-8, on gigaku men" (mask)
  2. ^ Banham, Martin (1995). The Cambridge Guide to Theatre (preview). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521434379., under Japan, subsection "Chinese and Korean influence" p.559
  3. ^ a b Heibonsha 1969 volume=5, page=483-4, article on gigaku by ja:吉川英史 (Kikkawa, Eishi, 1909~2006, traditional music related art historian)
  4. ^ Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre: from Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism. Princeton Univ. Press, 1995.
  5. ^ Lattimore, Owen. "A Treasury of Inner Asian History and Culture: A Review Article."Pacific Affairs, vol. 50, no. 3, 1977, pp. 426, Periodicals Archive Online,
  6. ^ Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre: from Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism. Princeton Univ. Press, 1995
  7. ^ Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre: from Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism. Princeton Univ. Press, 1995
  8. ^ Kennedy, Dennis. The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance. : Oxford University Press, 2010. Oxford Reference. 2010
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Araki 1964, p.37-
  10. ^ Tokyo National Museum (1984). 伎楽面: 法隆寺献納宝物(Gigaku men: Horyuji kenno homotsu (snippet). Benridō., p.207
  11. ^ a b c Shinchosha 1985, p.914 on "Chido""
  12. ^ a b c d e Shinchosha 1985, p562, on Kongō" and p.1559 on "Rikishi"
  13. ^ a b c d Hayashiya 1988, p.85, p.101, etc.
  14. ^ Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre: from Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism. Princeton Univ. Press, 1995.
  15. ^ Araki 1964, p.37n, quote:"Konron (Chinese: K'un-lun) is an ithyphallic being who presumbably represents the dark-skinned native of South Asia.." etc.
  16. ^ Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre: from Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism. Princeton Univ. Press, 1995.
  17. ^ Shinchosha 1985, p.633 on 'shishimen"
  18. ^ Ortolani, Benito. The Japanese Theatre: from Shamanistic Ritual to Contemporary Pluralism. Princeton Univ. Press, 1995.
  19. ^ Shinchosha 1985, p.633 on 'shishiko-men"
  20. ^ Shinchosha 1985, p.862 on "Taiko"
  21. ^ Shinchosha 1985, p.752 on "Suiko"
  22. ^ Tian, Min. "Chinese Nuo and Japanese Noh: Nuo's role in the origination and formation of Noh." Comparative Drama, vol. 37, no. 3-4, 2003, p. 343+. Literature Resource Center,
  23. ^ Tian, Min. "Chinese Nuo and Japanese Noh: Nuo's role in the origination and formation of Noh." Comparative Drama, vol. 37, no. 3-4, 2003, p. 343+. Literature Resource Center

External links [ edit ]

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