Japanese Serpent (八岐大蛇 Yamata no Orochi)

There is a famous myth that anyone who has grown up in Japan is sure to know.  The legend’s namesake is taken from the story’s main antagonist- Yamata no Orochi.  Also known as the Orochi, this monstrous serpent with eight heads and tails, has an enormous body that reaches the lengths of eight valleys and eight hills (see a pattern?)

The Orochi makes a prominent appearance in Iwami Kagura.  Iwami Kagura is a visual performance that incorporates music and dance to tell a story―one of the most popular being the story of Yamata no Orochi.
The performance depicts the heroic protaganist, Susano-o, slaying the evil serpent in order to save orochi-iwami-kagurahis beloved Kushinadahime.

Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the entire performance are the masks that are worn by the actors.  Each mask is handmade out of washi paper and is meticulously crafted by master artisans who specialize in designing these elaborate creations.  The Orochi’s body is made from a collapsible and extendable bamboo and washi paper frame in order to mimic the movements of an undulating snake.  

For more in- depth information about Iwami Kagura, click here: https://www.select-japan.net/article/en/column/134

To view our selection of masks and to learn more information about the Kakita Katsuro Mask Factory click here: https://www.select-japan.net/ex/shimane-kakitakatsuromaskfactory/

orochi-mask

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