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In noh wigs are broadly categorized as kazura 鬘 or kami 髪), which simulate human hairstyles and are bound in a ponytail, tare 垂, where the hair is allowed to hang loose, and large wigs (kashira 頭), which are made of massive fibers that fan out around the head and down the back.

Noh Kyogen

Kazura and Kami (Bound Wigs): Types and Roles

All women's roles use masks and a kazura wig with long hair (made of either real human hair or horse mane), parted at the center. The wig is set on the actor's head, combed, rolled at the sides, and gathered in a low ponytail at the back, where it is tied with a white paper knot (motoyui 元結). Young women wear black wigs (kuro-kazura 黒鬘), while old women wear tan hair or mixed black and tan hair wigs (uba-kazura 姥髪 and ’’rōonna kazura 老女鬘) of the same style as young women. Celestial maidens have longer naga-kazura. Boy acolytes wearing the Kasshiki mask wear wigs (kasshiki-kazura 喝食鬘) with a part that is combed straight back and bound at the nape of the neck. Old men wear a tan-colored, high ponytail of horse mane flipped to the front over a white cap in chonmage style. The old man's wig (jō-gami 尉髪) is tied with a ramie cord.

Tare (Loose Wigs): Types and Roles

"Hanging" (tare) wigs have below shoulder-length hairs attached in a ring that is placed on the crown of the actor's head. The black kurotare 黒垂 is worn for roles of male and female deities and warrior courtiers. The kurotare is always worn under a crown, hat, or other headgear covering the wig's central ring. As a variant for more aged roles, the shirotare 白垂 with off-white hairs might be used.

Kashira (Large Wigs): Types and Roles

Kashira are constructed by attaching hairs to a cloth strip that is tied to the head. For red (aka-gashira 赤頭) headpieces worn by strong gods, dragon gods, demons and beasts, the hairs bristle out in all directions obscuring the mask and cascading down the back of the actor. Black headpieces (kuro-gashira 黒頭) made of horse mane are similar in construction but less wild. They are worn by male ghosts, young deities, and masked boys. Large white headpieces (shiro-gashira 白頭) are of the same construction as red headpieces and, as with humans, express advanced age. 'White headpiece' variant performances add a supernatural dynamic.

Special Wigs

Some wigs are used only for special circumstances or in variant performances. An woman's wig with a long hairpiece extension ( Naga-kamoji長髢) is used for the "naga-hakama" variant performances of Aoinoue and Dōjōji, where a jealous woman wears a Hannya mask and long trailing red trousers. In the nō Mochizuki and Uchito Mōdethe actor performs a shishi dance wearing a variant large wig that is attached to gold open fans that substitute for a lion mask. In addition, some kyōgen plays require beards, such as Higeyagura and Tō Sumō.


Monica Bethe