• 2009.103.1 Hyottoko Mask
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  • AB 86-1 Tengu Mask
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  • 2006.X.71 Hyottoko Mask
  • 2006.X.59 Kitsune mask (front)
What is it?
Hyottoko Mask
What is it made of?
Where is it from?
When was it made?
Object ID

This papier-mâché mask represents Hyottoko, a character from Japanese folklore. It is painted on front in a skin tone; its face has one white eye wide open (with an eye hole) and the other eye winking. The eyebrows, eye lashes, and nostrils are all painted in black, while the cheeks and wrinkle lines are painted in reddish brown, the pouting mouth is painted in red, and the beard stubble is lightly brushed on in grey. Hyottoko is painted wearing his signature white tenugui headband with blue polka dots. A thread is strung through two holes on either side of the mask for wear. Hyotokku masks are used to bring good luck/fortune. 

Hyottoko is a figure from Japanese folklore, with unclear origins. In many regions he is considered the god of fire (his name derives from "hi"--fire--and "otoko"--man). Some regions have alternative conceptions of Hyottoko: in Iwate Prefecture, for example, the character is based a boy named Hyoutokusu who had a bizarre face and could create gold out of his belly button. When someone in one's household passed away, the relatives would put the mask of this boy at the top of the fireplace to bring good fortune to the house. Whatever the origins, today Hyottoko is characterized by mismatched eyes and a somewhat lopsided face, and he is often wearing a white tenugui with blue polka dots. Hyottoko's female counterpart is Otafuku/Okame (the plain or homely woman); both are somewhat comical figures.

Purchased by The Children's Museum, 1985
2009.103.1 Hyottoko Mask