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> Cyber Museum > What is a Mask
 
Masks handed down to the present in Korea are those used in mask plays, folk plays, shamanistic mask plays, Cheoyongmu, etc. In addition, Bangsangsi mask found at the warehouse of the Changdeok Palace seems to have been used in funerals in Court.

Masks are also used in Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 2 Yangju Byeolsandae Nori, Deotboegi in No. 3 Namsadang Nori, No. 6 Tongyeong Ogwangdae, No. 7 Goseong Ogwangdae, Gangneung Gwanno Mask Play in No. 13 Gangneung Danoje, No. 15 Bukcheong Saja Noreum, No. 17 Baongsan Talchum, No. 18 Dongrae Yaryu, No. 34 Gangryeong Talchum, No. 43 Suyeong Yaryu, No. 49 Songpa Sandae Nori, No. 61 Eunyul Talchum, No. 69 Hahoe Byeolsin Guttal Nori, No. 73 GasanOgwangdae, No. 81 Jindo Dasiraegi, etc. Besides, masks are used in mask plays such as Cheongdan Noreum in Yecheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do and Jainpalgwangdae Nori in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Folk plays using masks include Japsaek Nori, which is found throughout the country, that follows farm band, Yongho Nori in Muan, Jollanam-do and Dokkaebigut in Jindo, Jollanam-do.
Masks are also used in shamanistic mask plays such as Ipchungut Nori in Jeju-do, Sonorigut in Yangju, Gyeonggi-do, Sonorigut in Pyeongsan, Hwanghae-do, Hotalgut (Beomgut) and Talgut, which are part of Byeolsingut in the east coast, Yeonggam Nori, Gusamseungnaem and Jeonsang Nori in Jeju-do, Yeongsan Halmeom Harabeomgeori of Baeyeonsingut in Hwanghae-do, Gwangingut in the east coast and Samseoryanggut in Suncheon, Jollanam-do.
 
Cheoyong mask is used in Cheoyongmu. Cheoyongmu was designated as Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 39 in 1971. It originated from <The Story of Cheoyong> during the reign of the 49th King Heongang of the Shilla Dynasty. Since then it was handed down to the Koryo and Chosun Dynasty and became a key ritual dance of Narye to expel demons in Court. Cheoyongmu in the Koryo Dynasty was danced by one or two persons but it was expanded to Obang Cheoyongmu in Chosun Dynasty. The Cheoyong mask has a peony flower and a peach branch fixed on it. The peony flower symbolizes wealth and rank and the peach branch is to drive out ghosts.
 
Masks used in Korean mask plays do not include a hat whether they represent common people or noblemen. Characters who wear a hat uses a separate hat. Most masks express up to the brow. Some mask indicate hair with simple lines. Thus the nature and characteristics of characters are expressed by the change of the face. For example, Palmeokjung mask, which is a ghost face in Baongsan Talchum, produces a frightening look through its facial expression. This is the same in No-o mask in Japan. Chinese masks, however, express the nature and characteristics of characters using both the head and the face. The top of masks is decorated with a hat or a crown.
In addition, Korean masks do not have ears in general. However, masks in Yaryu and Ogwangdae have ears. The ears of Malttugi mask in DongraeYaryu and SuyeongYaryu are especially exaggerated. Moreover, Chinese masks express ears very remarkably.
Masks in Korean mask plays were designed to be convenient for energetic dancing. Some masks in the past had large holes on their eyes so that the entertainers could see outside without difficulty.
 
Masks appearing in mask plays belonging to the Bonsandae Nori family often have shapes in common. This is because the shapes of masks were spread together with the transmission of Bonsandae Nori. Thus there are regular patterns in masks according to character.
First of all, let's examine Chwibari. There is a common point among Chwibari masks used in Baongsan Talchum, Gangryeong Talchum, Yangju Byeolsandae Nori and Songpa Sandae Nori collected in 1929 as well as that in Gupabal Bonsandae Nori collected in the late 1930s and that in Toegyewon Sandae Nori collected in the 1920s and kept in the museum of the Seoul National University. That is, the ground of the face is red, several thick wrinkles are on the brow, and a streak of long hair hangs down from the top of the forehead. Thus it is easy to find Chwibari Tal from however many masks mixed together. Despite geographical difference among Seoul, Gyeonggi-do and Hwanghae-do and temporal difference between the 1930s and 2000s, Chwibari Tal is maintaining a common look. This proves that Chwibari Tal had established a certain pattern in the past and mask plays using Chwibari Tal belong to the same family.
 
Not only Chwibari Tal but also Nojang Tal, Halmi Tal, Yeonggam Tal, Yeonggameui Cheop Tal, Saennim Tal, Jonggajip Doryeong Tal, Sangjwa Tal, Somu Tal, etc. form certain types of characters despite geographical and temporal differences.
Saennim Tal, which is the first Yangban, has a double harelip on a white ground of face in Byeolsandae Nori and Haeseo Talchum in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, so they are easily distinguished from other mask.
The second Yangban is also a mask with a single harelip. Saennim Tal, however, appears to have already been expressed as a harelip in Bonsandae Nori. The rear part of <Namseonggwanhuija>, which Gang I-cheon(1769~1801) composed to depict a play he watched outside the South Gate in 1779, describes Bonsandae Nori. The poem tells, "It is wrong for such a dirty old Confucian breaks into the play! He is harelipped with long eyebrows...” This shows that the mask of Saennim, the first Yangban, is harelipped with long eyebrows. This exactly coincides with Saennim Tal in Yangju Byeolsandae Nori collected in 1929 (the museum of the Seoul National University) and Saennim Tal in contemporary Yangju Byeolsandae Nori, Songpa Sandae Nori, Baongsan Talchum, Gangryeong Talchum and Eunyul Talchum.
 
Yangban Tal appears as different types of deformities such as Moyangban Tal, Hongbaek Tal and Heuk TalㆍGombo Tal in Yaryu and Ogwangdae in Gyeongsangnam-do. Many mask plays, Jonggajip Doryeong Tal has a white face with a deformed nose.
On the other hand, Malttugi, who is the servant of Yangban in Dongrae Yaryu, is much larger than other masks. Its nose extending from the brow to the jaws is big and reminds of man's sexual organ, producing a young and rebellious image. Thus, its appearance overwhelms Yangban. In particular, Malttugi Tal in DongraeYaryu collected by Song Seok-ha in the 1930s is aesthetically outstanding. The mask has several characteristics in its shape including the ground color of the face, the big nose resembling man's sexual organ, the big ears and fat earlobes.
 
Nojang Tal has many white dots on the black ground. These dots are known to be fly specks accumulated as Nojang had been in ecstasy for many years as he devoted himself to training. However, Nojang apostatizes as he is excited by young woman Somu. The satire on Nojang makes the play even more interesting.
 
There is a Korean mask that can blink its eyes. It is Nunkkeumjjeogi Tal in Byeolsandae Nori in Yangju, Songpa and Toegyewon. Originally Nunkkeumjjeogi Tal was designed to blink its eyes, so it was named Nunkkeumjjeogi. However, the mask has not been reproduced at present. Its original shape can be inferred from Nunkkeumjjeogi Tal in Toegyewon Sandae Nori at the museum of the Seoul National University.
 
On the other hand, Chwibari or Palmeokjung in Korea mask plays appears drunken in a mask of a western-region people. Muhoehoe in Namu at Gwiji in Anhui Province, China also plays in a mask of a western-region people like Chwibari or Palmeokjung in Korea mask plays, which suggests mutual relationship between Korean and Chinese mask plays. There are five types of Muhoehoe, which are Hoinchwijuhyeong, Hoinmubanghyeong, Hoinmusahyeong, Hoinyongmuhyeong and Hoinheonbohyeong, in which drunken Hoin (western-region people) appear. Thus, it was named Muhoehoe, which means, "Hoihoi dances." Hoihoi indicates Muslims in the western region including Uighurs. Many of Hoihoi, namely, Muslims in the western region are western people and their dress style is unique, so they are easily distinguished by their appearance.
As one of Wonjin's poems says, "Hodeungchwimugeungoryu", there was a play in which drunken Hoins called Chwihodeung and Chwihoja appear in the Tang Dynasty. The play was transmitted to Japan under the name of Hoeumju. Sinseogoakdo, a painting on a scroll handed down in Japan, describes Hoeumju as one of Muaks, which is definitely a western-region people.
Chwiho in Giak, a mask play transmitted to Japan by Mi Ma-ji from the Baeje Dynasty is also called Chwihowang. This is the mask of Jeongchangwon, but according to the material book in several temples, each Chwihowang mask had 6~8 subordinate Chwihos. In Baongsan Talchum as well, Chwibari appears to be the head of Palmeokjungs, all of them are drunken, and their masks resemble the appearance of Hoin.
This suggests that Hoihoi, namely, drunken western-region people in Chinese mask plays and drunken Chwibari and Palmeokjung who look like western-region people in Korean mask plays have a long history.
 
Masks in Hahoe Byeolsinguttal Nori have many formative characteristics distinguished from those in other mask plays in terms of the technique of creation and shape. For example, Yangban, Seonbi, Baekjeong and Jung have a separate lower jaw connected to the face with a string, Imae does not have the lower jaw, Choraengi is a servant with a deformed mouth, Jung has a big lump on its forehead, and each mask was made according to its phrenological characteristic. Unexpectedly, however, Nadanghee mask in Guizhou Province, China and No-o mask in Japan have many points in common with Hahoi masks. These should be examined in the future.
 
 
 
 
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