- 麻布大学雑誌 (ISSN:13465880)
- vol.15, pp.19-30, 2007
It is recognized that ancient masks of Japan used for playing Noh were endowed with various facial expressions, meaning that manifold faces with agony, sadness, calmness, indignation, or pleasure are immanent in one mask. As for performing arts played in the Medieval Period of Japan, it is supposed that they were separated from Shinto rituals and independently developed during this era. People who engaged in those performing arts belonged to the class of humble people. Performing includes implication of purifying "impurity" which existed in birth and death, blood and decay, plague, or poverty, all of which are associated with everything of human life. Those humble people as performing artists wore clothes of monks as a lower religious order, meaning that they were not ordinary people who were never able to purify impurity. Purification was also involved in the activity of shamanism, including traditional Japanese dance. The dancers of shamanism attained a state of trance which expressed the words of Gods, which led to the primitive style of playing Noh. In the Medieval Period, as agricultural techniques developed, the level of people's lifestyle improved. A new type of Buddhism which parted from that belonging to the aristocracy spread into the people's spirit, encouraging people's economic and political power. In the Muromachi era, art theory was sophisticated through Japanese songs, tea-party, and pictures, particularly Indian-ink drawings. Yugen (subtletly), the philosophical idea of expression, was applied to arts, which became the core art theory of this era. This art theory was affected by another branch of Buddhism, that is, Zen. The charm of refined simplicity was promoted by religious meditation that was the essence of Zen thought. Particularly the Indian-ink drawings were art works reflecting the quiet precinct of poetical sentiment and philosophical meditation. While Kanami and Zeami established the foundation of Noh, the masks were mutually affected by other ancient masks which had been used in divine, religious rituals in local areas. The artistry of ancient masks implies the incantatory divinity which was related to the subtle profundity of the art spirit of this era. Consequently, the performing arts were supported by religious incantation which yielded the fundamental creativity of the Medieval Period.