Sunday, November 3, 2013

Usobuki (Japan / Kyogen)

Japanese Kyogen Mask : Usofuki, Usobuki (空吹き)

Noh Character Correlate: Kotobide (小飛出)

Kyogen masks are correlated to Noh masks, and there is great discussion about which influenced which. Kyogen is usually played in the intervals of Noh plays. Unlike Noh, Kyogen is less formal, with a lighter religious tone, and more related to comedy, the human nature and the search for meaning in daily life action. It is widely said that Kyogen works as a scape valve for social and hierarchical tensions, as its main purpose is to make fun of important characters depicted in the Noh plays and in society in general.

Usofuki (or sometimes, Usobuki), is the smallest of the characters, representing the meaninglessness of the human condition in its impotent apex. Its eyes look surprised, but it is unable to scream or roar; it can only whistle, discretely, cowardly, inconsequentially. Hence, Usofuki also being used as the representation of insects and small animals. Hence, again, the origins of its own name: "uso" meaning lie, and "fuki" meaning to blow, to whistle.

As a representation of the human condition, it is exaggerated and comedic. As an esoteric principle, it is precise in the form it depicts the action of man and the turns of Fortune: tragedy arising from the whisper of a lie.

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