gigaku

Definition

Theater

  • A Chinese Buddhist dance drama imported to Japan in 612 bythe Korean dancer, Mimaji. The performances consisted of processionsfollowed by comic scenes performed on a temporary outdoor stage. Some250 gigaku masks have been preserved in temple collections.

    A typical performance of gigaku in the 13th centurybegan with ritual Buddhist music (netori), followed by a procession(gyodo) of chanting monks masked as Buddhas. Ten or more actorsrepresenting stock characters such as a king, a Chinese woman, anIndian Brahman, and a lion tamer would then process before mountingthe stage to enact a series of skits warning against various sins.

    By the 12th century, gigaku had lost imperial supportand was thereafter gradually replaced by Bugaku.

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