Hahoetal

Hahoetal

Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Arts

Writer ParkJintae(朴鎭泰)

Masks worn in Hahoe Byeolsingut Talnori.

A mask (or masks) worn by the performers featured in byeolsingut held in Hahoe village.

One of the Hahoe masks made of alder wood is Korea’s oldest wooden mask. Only the lion-shaped Juji is an animal mask, while all the other Hahoe masks are in the form of human faces. However, gaksital (bride’s mask) can be seen as a deity mask, representing the seventeen-year-old seonangsin (tutelary deity) found in legend. According to the legend, a seventeen-year-old maiden sneaked a peek at Heodoryeong (young man of the Heo family) when he was making a mask after hanging a straw rope at the front gate to ward off evil spirits and taking a bath to purify himself. At this, he was punished by the gods and died spitting blood on the spot, while the maiden died to become the village tutelary deity. Like the Gaksi mask, the other Hahoe masks were originally the masks of gods in human form because they were the company of Seonang Gaksi (bride). It seems, however, that as their divine nature gradually disappeared they have been perceived as art masks.

Hahoe masks are largely divided into three types: ① female masks such as Gaksi (bride), Bune (female entertainer), and Halmi (old woman); ② male masks such as Yangban (nobleman), Seonbi (scholar), Chorani (servant), Imae (low-ranking official), Jung (monk), Baekjeong (butcher); and ③ animal masks such as Juji (lion).

Gaksital (bride’s mask) has powder brushed on the apricot-colored face, with rouge on the cheeks, the forehead and the lips. The bride mask looks like a young maiden, with a wide, flat nose, prominent cheekbones, and is tight-lipped to convey an unfamiliar and strained expression. However, the right eye is closed and left eye slightly open to embody the maiden’s conflicting emotions of suppression and sexual curiosity. The hair is in a braided updo and a long tress of hair is hanging on either side of the face. This look symbolizes the suppressed sexual culture of society imposed on the bride.

Bunetal (mask of a female entertainer) has the face of a young woman, with powder brushed on the apricot-colored face and rouge on the cheeks, forehead and lips. The smiling expression of the female entertainer with her narrow eyes and mouth both slightly open, forming a crescent shape on the pretty oval face, and her straight, slim nose in the center are all in harmony to show off the woman’s mature physical beauty and sexual charm. In addition, her hair looks like horns, as it encircles the upper half of the face like a rim, covers both ears, hangs over the lower end of the cheeks, then is rolled up in a bun. This symbolically expresses her active sexuality and seductiveness.

Halmital (mask of an old woman) has freckles rendered as green blotches on a dark red face, eyes round with a white-ringed iris, the area between the brows deeply wrinkled, and a small nose rising sharply. This mask has wrinkles carved on the cheeks, at the edges of the eyes, and on the corners of the mouth, with the lower chin pointed and the mouth wide open. Halmital has the look of an ugly old and unfortunate woman, but the white-ringed eyes and wide open mouth testify to her strong ability to make a living, the tenacious vitality that has taken her through the ups and downs of a life marked by poverty and discrimination. As such, the mask shows a greedy, avaricious, foul-mouthed, ill-tempered old woman, not an obedient, resigned, and weak old woman. These three types of female masks were designed to represent three age groups of women, and are grounded in the view of women in a patriarchal society, which perceived a woman’s fundamental ability and role in the family to be childbearing.

In contrast, male masks were designed to speak for their status and role in society. For example, Baekjeong (butcher) is of the lowest class as a man engaged in slaughter, but Jung (Buddhist monk) is a religious priest. Yangban (nobleman) and Seonbi (scholar) belong to the literati, while Chorani is the servant of a nobleman, and Imae a low-ranking official. Imae was also known as Beolchae, which was probably mistakenly transformed from byeoljwa (Kor. 별좌, Chin. 別坐). Imae is named after a goblin named Imae (Kor.이매, Chin. 魑魅) because he has a limping left leg, similar to the goblin whose left leg is weak.

Baekjeongtal (butcher’s mask) looks grim with its orange-colored face, lump between the eyebrows, and deep wrinkles scattered in disarray on the forehead, between the brows, and on the cheeks. In addition, the narrow eyes and slightly smiling mouth of the mask reveal the butcher’s malicious and cruel personality as reflected in the dance movement, “the butcher’s malicious-looking walk.” Also, the lump between the brows, the big, wide nostrils, and big and strong chin of the mask depict the butcher’s great muscular strength.

Jungtal (monk’s mask) features a big lump between the brows, a big smile with his mouth wide open, two narrow eyes glaring up, and philtrum and the tip of the nose lifted up at the end. Smiling this way makes the monk look sly, corresponding to the dance movement “the monk’s sly gait.”

Yangbantal (nobleman’s mask) has an orange complexion, and the long, thick eyebrows and narrow eyes open like a crescent moon exhibit the beauty of gentle curves. Also, the face of the mask is symmetric overall, showing a wide open mouth, broadly smiling. The hooked nose and large chin make a strong impression.

Seonbital (scholar’s mask) has a vermillion complexion painted over with brown. The nose is hooked, and the eyes with a white-ringed iris and sharply raised at the corners give the mask a fierce and angry look.

Like the monk and scholar masks, choranital (servant’s mask) has a vermillion complexion painted over with brown. It features two big, round bulging eyes outlined in white to emphasize the effect of bold relief. The tip of its nose is flattened, and the mouth slightly lifted toward the left, giving the smiling mouth a sort of twisted look. The upper and lower teeth are shown and the chin is pointed. Since the sculpting of choranital is not realistic like the other male masks but simplified and stylized like the animal mask jujital, some view the servant mask as an animal mask rather than a human mask.

Imaetal (mask of a low-ranking official) has the same orange face as the nobleman’s mask and butcher’s mask. This is in contrast to the monk’s mask, scholar’s mask and servant’s mask, whose faces are all painted vermilion. If the masks painted in vermilion have a strong look, expressing aggressive characters, then the masks colored orange give the impression of gentleness, expressing characters with embracing personalities. Although imaetal shares similarities with the nobleman’s mask, both featuring narrow eyes and gently curved eyebrows, the imaetal distinctively depicts the aesthetics of the unfinished, with the tip of the nose fallen off and the chin missing. The aforementioned legend related to the making of the masks also puts special stress on explaining the deficiency of this mask. The official Imae is a fool who walks with a limp and makes the audience laugh, according to the acting directions such as, “Imae’s limping walk.” This is because his role is set as an ignorant and foolish servant with a deficiency, in contrast to the learned and outstanding literati.

An example of an animal mask is jujital (lion’s mask). This mask comes in two versions, one male and one female, both consisting of three parts. The head, or upper part, of the lion mask has eyes drawn on an arch-shaped board, and a mane rendered with pheasant feathers attached to the upper edge of the board. The nose and mouth of the lion mask are designed to stick out to produce clapping sounds by controlling the upper and lower jaws with the hands. However, this design is not realistic like the lion mask in Bukjeong Sajanori (Bukjeong Lion Play), but stylistic and symbolic. The sex of the Juji mask is distinguished by joining the upper and lower jaws of the mask: If the jaws are completely joined together, the mask represents a lion; if incompletely joined to leave the mouth open, it represents a lioness.

The form and shape of Hahoe masks mirror the lives of the common people and the society that they live in. The faces were colored apricot, dark red, orange, or vermillion depending on the sex, age, status, and personality. This tradition of distinction has been handed down to masks of later generations. In form, Hahoe masks are divided into vertically symmetric and asymmetric forms. The mask of the nobleman and the mask of the scholar are symmetric, while the mask of the servant Chorani is asymmetric due to its crooked mouth. However, as the ordinary people’s social awareness grew, this situation was reversed as the mask of the servant Malttugi, a symmetric mask of ordinary form, while the mask of a nobleman is asymmetric and unordinary.

Two types of eyes are found in Hahoe masks: narrow eyes (bride, female entertainer, nobleman, low-ranking official, monk, and butcher) and eyes with a white-ringed iris (scholar, servant, and old woman). The former eyes have a smiling expression and the latter an angry look. The strong who are physically and socially advantaged and well-to-do have narrow eyes, while the weak who are at a disadvantage, dissatisfied or hostile, have the ringed eyes too. This is in contrast to the masks in other regions where angry eyes are narrow and sharp like daggers but smiling eyes are big and bulging like those of a carp.

The nose on the mask also reveals the social status and dynamics of the characters. The nobleman and the scholar have a sharp, aquiline nose, while the servant and the low-ranking official have a low, broad nose. The nose of the sexually free entertainer Bune is high, but that of the sexually suppressed bride Gaksi is flattened. After the common people’s awareness grew, the nobleman’s nose was made in abnormal form with a cleft lip, while the servant Malttugi’s nose changed to an ordinary, straight nose.

As for the mouth, the nobleman and the scholar of the Hahoe village masks have an ordinary-looking mouth, but the lowly servant has a crooked mouth. The official Imae’s chin is missing. In other regions, however, the nobleman has a cleft lip or twisted mouth, while the servant Malttugi has an ordinary mouth. In addition, there is a lump, a symbol of strength, between the brows of the monk and the butcher. This is similar to the masks of the old monk (Noseung), old bachelor (Chwibari), servant (Malttugi), and depraved monk (Meokjung) in other regions, which also have a lump on their masks.

As such, when compared to traditional folk masks of other regions, Hahoe masks reflect the connection beween changes in the masks and the history of Hahoe society and the people’s social consciousnes. However, some male masks of Hahoe village, such as those of the nobleman, scholar, monk, butcher, and official, have their lower jaw made separately and connected to the upper jaw using a strap so that their facial expressions can be varied by pulling the head of the mask back and forth. This technique of separating the jaws from the rest of the face, called jeorak (Kor. 절악, Chin. 切顎, lit. sliced jaw), is rarely found in other regions and was not used in the masks of later generations.

Hahoetal

Hahoetal
Location of the encyclopedia

Korean Folk Arts

Writer ParkJintae(朴鎭泰)

Masks worn in Hahoe Byeolsingut Talnori.

A mask (or masks) worn by the performers featured in byeolsingut held in Hahoe village.

One of the Hahoe masks made of alder wood is Korea’s oldest wooden mask. Only the lion-shaped Juji is an animal mask, while all the other Hahoe masks are in the form of human faces. However, gaksital (bride’s mask) can be seen as a deity mask, representing the seventeen-year-old seonangsin (tutelary deity) found in legend. According to the legend, a seventeen-year-old maiden sneaked a peek at Heodoryeong (young man of the Heo family) when he was making a mask after hanging a straw rope at the front gate to ward off evil spirits and taking a bath to purify himself. At this, he was punished by the gods and died spitting blood on the spot, while the maiden died to become the village tutelary deity. Like the Gaksi mask, the other Hahoe masks were originally the masks of gods in human form because they were the company of Seonang Gaksi (bride). It seems, however, that as their divine nature gradually disappeared they have been perceived as art masks.

Hahoe masks are largely divided into three types: ① female masks such as Gaksi (bride), Bune (female entertainer), and Halmi (old woman); ② male masks such as Yangban (nobleman), Seonbi (scholar), Chorani (servant), Imae (low-ranking official), Jung (monk), Baekjeong (butcher); and ③ animal masks such as Juji (lion).

Gaksital (bride’s mask) has powder brushed on the apricot-colored face, with rouge on the cheeks, the forehead and the lips. The bride mask looks like a young maiden, with a wide, flat nose, prominent cheekbones, and is tight-lipped to convey an unfamiliar and strained expression. However, the right eye is closed and left eye slightly open to embody the maiden’s conflicting emotions of suppression and sexual curiosity. The hair is in a braided updo and a long tress of hair is hanging on either side of the face. This look symbolizes the suppressed sexual culture of society imposed on the bride.

Bunetal (mask of a female entertainer) has the face of a young woman, with powder brushed on the apricot-colored face and rouge on the cheeks, forehead and lips. The smiling expression of the female entertainer with her narrow eyes and mouth both slightly open, forming a crescent shape on the pretty oval face, and her straight, slim nose in the center are all in harmony to show off the woman’s mature physical beauty and sexual charm. In addition, her hair looks like horns, as it encircles the upper half of the face like a rim, covers both ears, hangs over the lower end of the cheeks, then is rolled up in a bun. This symbolically expresses her active sexuality and seductiveness.

Halmital (mask of an old woman) has freckles rendered as green blotches on a dark red face, eyes round with a white-ringed iris, the area between the brows deeply wrinkled, and a small nose rising sharply. This mask has wrinkles carved on the cheeks, at the edges of the eyes, and on the corners of the mouth, with the lower chin pointed and the mouth wide open. Halmital has the look of an ugly old and unfortunate woman, but the white-ringed eyes and wide open mouth testify to her strong ability to make a living, the tenacious vitality that has taken her through the ups and downs of a life marked by poverty and discrimination. As such, the mask shows a greedy, avaricious, foul-mouthed, ill-tempered old woman, not an obedient, resigned, and weak old woman. These three types of female masks were designed to represent three age groups of women, and are grounded in the view of women in a patriarchal society, which perceived a woman’s fundamental ability and role in the family to be childbearing.

In contrast, male masks were designed to speak for their status and role in society. For example, Baekjeong (butcher) is of the lowest class as a man engaged in slaughter, but Jung (Buddhist monk) is a religious priest. Yangban (nobleman) and Seonbi (scholar) belong to the literati, while Chorani is the servant of a nobleman, and Imae a low-ranking official. Imae was also known as Beolchae, which was probably mistakenly transformed from byeoljwa (Kor. 별좌, Chin. 別坐). Imae is named after a goblin named Imae (Kor.이매, Chin. 魑魅) because he has a limping left leg, similar to the goblin whose left leg is weak.

Baekjeongtal (butcher’s mask) looks grim with its orange-colored face, lump between the eyebrows, and deep wrinkles scattered in disarray on the forehead, between the brows, and on the cheeks. In addition, the narrow eyes and slightly smiling mouth of the mask reveal the butcher’s malicious and cruel personality as reflected in the dance movement, “the butcher’s malicious-looking walk.” Also, the lump between the brows, the big, wide nostrils, and big and strong chin of the mask depict the butcher’s great muscular strength.

Jungtal (monk’s mask) features a big lump between the brows, a big smile with his mouth wide open, two narrow eyes glaring up, and philtrum and the tip of the nose lifted up at the end. Smiling this way makes the monk look sly, corresponding to the dance movement “the monk’s sly gait.”

Yangbantal (nobleman’s mask) has an orange complexion, and the long, thick eyebrows and narrow eyes open like a crescent moon exhibit the beauty of gentle curves. Also, the face of the mask is symmetric overall, showing a wide open mouth, broadly smiling. The hooked nose and large chin make a strong impression.

Seonbital (scholar’s mask) has a vermillion complexion painted over with brown. The nose is hooked, and the eyes with a white-ringed iris and sharply raised at the corners give the mask a fierce and angry look.

Like the monk and scholar masks, choranital (servant’s mask) has a vermillion complexion painted over with brown. It features two big, round bulging eyes outlined in white to emphasize the effect of bold relief. The tip of its nose is flattened, and the mouth slightly lifted toward the left, giving the smiling mouth a sort of twisted look. The upper and lower teeth are shown and the chin is pointed. Since the sculpting of choranital is not realistic like the other male masks but simplified and stylized like the animal mask jujital, some view the servant mask as an animal mask rather than a human mask.

Imaetal (mask of a low-ranking official) has the same orange face as the nobleman’s mask and butcher’s mask. This is in contrast to the monk’s mask, scholar’s mask and servant’s mask, whose faces are all painted vermilion. If the masks painted in vermilion have a strong look, expressing aggressive characters, then the masks colored orange give the impression of gentleness, expressing characters with embracing personalities. Although imaetal shares similarities with the nobleman’s mask, both featuring narrow eyes and gently curved eyebrows, the imaetal distinctively depicts the aesthetics of the unfinished, with the tip of the nose fallen off and the chin missing. The aforementioned legend related to the making of the masks also puts special stress on explaining the deficiency of this mask. The official Imae is a fool who walks with a limp and makes the audience laugh, according to the acting directions such as, “Imae’s limping walk.” This is because his role is set as an ignorant and foolish servant with a deficiency, in contrast to the learned and outstanding literati.

An example of an animal mask is jujital (lion’s mask). This mask comes in two versions, one male and one female, both consisting of three parts. The head, or upper part, of the lion mask has eyes drawn on an arch-shaped board, and a mane rendered with pheasant feathers attached to the upper edge of the board. The nose and mouth of the lion mask are designed to stick out to produce clapping sounds by controlling the upper and lower jaws with the hands. However, this design is not realistic like the lion mask in Bukjeong Sajanori (Bukjeong Lion Play), but stylistic and symbolic. The sex of the Juji mask is distinguished by joining the upper and lower jaws of the mask: If the jaws are completely joined together, the mask represents a lion; if incompletely joined to leave the mouth open, it represents a lioness.

The form and shape of Hahoe masks mirror the lives of the common people and the society that they live in. The faces were colored apricot, dark red, orange, or vermillion depending on the sex, age, status, and personality. This tradition of distinction has been handed down to masks of later generations. In form, Hahoe masks are divided into vertically symmetric and asymmetric forms. The mask of the nobleman and the mask of the scholar are symmetric, while the mask of the servant Chorani is asymmetric due to its crooked mouth. However, as the ordinary people’s social awareness grew, this situation was reversed as the mask of the servant Malttugi, a symmetric mask of ordinary form, while the mask of a nobleman is asymmetric and unordinary.

Two types of eyes are found in Hahoe masks: narrow eyes (bride, female entertainer, nobleman, low-ranking official, monk, and butcher) and eyes with a white-ringed iris (scholar, servant, and old woman). The former eyes have a smiling expression and the latter an angry look. The strong who are physically and socially advantaged and well-to-do have narrow eyes, while the weak who are at a disadvantage, dissatisfied or hostile, have the ringed eyes too. This is in contrast to the masks in other regions where angry eyes are narrow and sharp like daggers but smiling eyes are big and bulging like those of a carp.

The nose on the mask also reveals the social status and dynamics of the characters. The nobleman and the scholar have a sharp, aquiline nose, while the servant and the low-ranking official have a low, broad nose. The nose of the sexually free entertainer Bune is high, but that of the sexually suppressed bride Gaksi is flattened. After the common people’s awareness grew, the nobleman’s nose was made in abnormal form with a cleft lip, while the servant Malttugi’s nose changed to an ordinary, straight nose.

As for the mouth, the nobleman and the scholar of the Hahoe village masks have an ordinary-looking mouth, but the lowly servant has a crooked mouth. The official Imae’s chin is missing. In other regions, however, the nobleman has a cleft lip or twisted mouth, while the servant Malttugi has an ordinary mouth. In addition, there is a lump, a symbol of strength, between the brows of the monk and the butcher. This is similar to the masks of the old monk (Noseung), old bachelor (Chwibari), servant (Malttugi), and depraved monk (Meokjung) in other regions, which also have a lump on their masks.

As such, when compared to traditional folk masks of other regions, Hahoe masks reflect the connection beween changes in the masks and the history of Hahoe society and the people’s social consciousnes. However, some male masks of Hahoe village, such as those of the nobleman, scholar, monk, butcher, and official, have their lower jaw made separately and connected to the upper jaw using a strap so that their facial expressions can be varied by pulling the head of the mask back and forth. This technique of separating the jaws from the rest of the face, called jeorak (Kor. 절악, Chin. 切顎, lit. sliced jaw), is rarely found in other regions and was not used in the masks of later generations.