Only dancing and wearing mask, Korean peasants were able to express their disgust towards rudeness or greed of the hosts or apply to some deity with extraordinary request. Keeping anonymity, the people played out the scenes from life, cried, and laughed. At the end of the performance the destiny awarded the good characters and punished villains.
In Korea people love street plays. Professional theaters and amateur teams use masks in the performances. Koreans have a soul-gripping attitude towards this attribute or drama and satire. Usual masks are created from the cardboard or pumpkin. Only special masks that have been used on the semi-island since old times are produced from the wood. They are called hakhve, in honor of the village where they appeared for the first time.
Their story is shrouded in mystery. It is said that sometimes in the village of Hakhve a terrible illness took lives of children and adults. No medicine helped. Then, one of the local had a dream, where the deity ordered him to cut out of the tree twelve masks, as a panacea for the sickness. Waking up, that man isolated in the mountains and began to embody the will of the gods. He worked day and night avoiding prying eyes. But, as the legend says, a curious girl somehow crept up to him and he ... died, not being able to finish one of the masks. That is why in the modern collection of hakhve, one of the masks lacks a chin. However, and this was enough for the disease to recede. The village was saved.Photo static.thousandwonders.net
Since then, almost a thousand years have passed, and in the village of Hakhve still carefully carve the masks of the aristocrat, the bride, the monk, the fool, the scientist, the concubine, the slave, the old woman and the murderer. In total there are nine heroes. Their tempers are strictly prescribed and the roles are predetermined. This means that if the actor wears a mask of the bride, then she is shy and taciturn. If he tries on the mask of an aristocrat, he is greedy, vain and prone to excess. The murderer is always bloodthirsty and mean. However, sometimes in the presentation add three more masks - the old man, tax collector and bachelor. Actors with closed faces play quite everyday scenes. In them there is violence, farming life, relationships between people of different estates, family strife.Photo flickr.com
All masks are very characteristic. They are quite voluminous and heavy. Let’s take an aristocrat. This is one of the most famous masks, which is often depicted on souvenir products. She has a wide nose, curved eyebrows and a jaw running on the ropes. From this it seems that the mask is able to smile broadly at good-natured, and sometimes angrily roll. If necessary, the modern minions of Melpomene paint the mask of this hero in black and white colors. This means that the aristocrat is not pure blood, and if it is painted with red dots, it means that the master is sick. A concubine is always a bright make-up, an oval face and a small mouth. She rarely speaks in plays, but she is always very coquettish with the main character, does massage to him and combs her long curls. Men in the play often compete for her attention and get into ridiculous situations. A mask of a scientist is always done with bulging eyes, thus wanting to show that he reads a lot. His nose is wrinkled, because he's always thinking about something. As a rule, this character comes into confrontation with an aristocrat. Brightly negative - a monk. He left the monastery and now does not resist any human desire. He pursues women, tries to deceive the commoner and always comes into dispute with the scientist. The mask of a fool has no lower jaw. It was her legend, the master did not have time to finish before his death. This character is always good-natured, a little ugly, and his dance resembles the walk of a lame person. A fool does not do evil, but often he himself becomes a victim of a conspiracy. In order for the actors to get used to the roles better, on the eve of the presentation they are treated like with their characters. For example, in relation to those who enter the stage in the mask of an aristocrat - all are ceremonious. During the action, actors are not easy. They bounce, move on widely spaced legs with inverted socks, actively wave their head and try to convey the character of their character using a minimum of speech.Photo koreaproductpost.com
Every year in the village of Hakhve, which is three hours drive from the capital, there is a festival of masks, to see which come crowds of tourists. The performances in masks of Khakhv combine oral text, songs and dances, have elements of shamanistic rituals and are very popular with the audience. Their fame led to the title of national treasure in Korea. Recently, the traditional spectacle made an innovation. Visitors coming to the festival can choose the topic they want to see the show themselves. Others, under the supervision of masters, personally make one of the twelve masks of Hakhve. Koreans believe these faces protect their owners from evil spirits and protect them from disease.
Cover photo blog.onedaykorea.com