Making a noh mask is a fun and creative way of getting into Japanese traditional culture. We propose an easy handicraft job that you'll love! Follow the instructions and have fun while you make it and also have fun making different plays up!
What's noh theatre?
Noh theatre is originally related to the rice harvest in Japan. It's a traditional theatrical genre that mixes dance, music and narrative songs based on Buddhist texts and poetry. In this type of theatre, the main character wears a mask similar to the one we're going to make.
The first thing you have to do is blow up a balloon. This balloon will be the base of our mask, so we don't want it to be too full of air, so it doesn't explode too easily and so our mask doesn't get spoilt in the middle of the process. We don't want it too full of air because eventually we'd like to wear it and we'll use our face for measuring the size of the mask. We'll put glue on an old plate. After we've cut newspaper strips, we can begin to make our own mask!
We'll start putting the newspaper strips on one side of the balloon. All the newspaper will go on the same side of the balloon for the mask to be uniform, both sides of the mask must be equal, so we have to pay special attention! We'll have to paint glue on each newspaper strip as many times as we need to for the newspaper to stick on the balloon very well. The same process will be followed many times and we will make several layers. We will need more paper for making our mask's nose.
We'll wait for a little while until the mask gets completely dry. When it's dry, we'll prick the balloon and take it out of the mould that we've made with newspaper paper and glue. The sandpaper will be used for levelling the irregular sides of the mask. With an adult's help, we'll make two holes on the nose of the mask, so we can breath when we wear out mask! We will also make two holes where eyes go, so we can also see when we wear our mask! For calculating where eyes go we can try on the mask. We will also make two holes on either side of the mask for putting a cord through and for wearing the mask.
Now we'll start painting our mask! This part is really fun. We're going to put white, black and red paint on a plate we're allowed to use. First, we'll create the base of the mask, for this, several layers of white paint will be needed. When it's dry, we will use the holes we've made for eyes for painting their outlines, as well as the outlines of our nose. Lips will be red, so our mask is a real noh mask! You can paint the rest of the face however you like!
Now that we've finished our noh mask, have fun and invent a play where you can wear your mask. If you've made your mask with other friends, you can all play different roles and it will be even more fun!