What was the use of masks in Japanese Noh theatrical productions? How was this type of theatre different from European drama of the time?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Noh drama, with its extreme stylization, use of a chorus, dancing, stylized costumes and masks, and relationship to religious ritual, is actually closer to ancient Greek, especially Aeschylean drama, than to naturalistic plays of the European Renaissance of a similar date, which rely on speech, don`t use masks, have limited song and dance, and are not connected to religious ritual. The mask in Noh originally was an instrument by which a god possessed a performer.  In later phases of Noh, the mask is itself part of the dramatic aesthetic, rather than simply a way of identifying a character type as it was in Greek drama. The most important mask types are gods and demons, but other masks serve to express emotion.