Faces expressed in Korean Mask


Korean Mask (Tal in Korean) has two different names in Korean. One is Gamyun (disguised face) because it disguise original face in varied animal or human being masks.
The other is Dutbyogi (meaning double face) because it can express essence of human life that can't be expressed by real human faces.
The origin of Korean Mask can be dated back to ancient times. Ancient Korean Mask had a supernatural deity's face, functioning as religion. The mask was believed to be God's descendant upon the earth. But the mask came to be employed by art and drama, and in Chosun Dynasty it was developed as Talnori (Korean Mask Play) of which the purpose was to criticize the society.
The Masks worn in Talnori have has very strange and grotesque outlooks but they describe all the walks of life by exaggerating their characters. The exaggeration of mask result from the effort to make intensive expression of complexity of human beings in one single mask. For each mask to have its own peculiarity , emphasizes were put in each part : eyes , mouth, eyelids, cheekbones, the front part of the head, a nose, the depth and the numbers of wrinkles, directions of lines, the volume of surface, and the diversity and density of colors.
The masks used in Hwahyoi Talnori , which is the oldest Talnori in Korea, don't have reality of human face. Take a whole balance of the mask and eyes, a nose , a mouth and ears for example. While Sunbital (scholar mask) has most balanced face, Choraengyital (servants' or common peoples' masks) has the most unbalanced face. Sunbital symbolizes the ideal intellectualism of scholars and Choraengyital expresses the miserable lives that servants and common people had.
The face of Imaetal , like choraengyital, is unbalanced and tilted propotion in the right and the left and Bunetal and Gaksital have the faces vertically unbalanced with a nose bent.
The masks that are horizontally crooked symbolize the oppressed and low class people who had complaint and resistance of the upper class. And the masks that are vertically tilted symbolize women who were sexually discriminated.
Both Choraengyital and Yangbantal have the unbalance in their proportion of chin, chin bone and eyes.
The right chin bone of Yanbantal is smoothly curved toward the right eye that is projected and the left one is sharply straight upward.
So the right eye is smoothly shaped, and the left one has a strongly staring look.
The right chin bone of choraengyital bulges out upward, embracing the circumference of the mouth. The left one has wrinkles drooped downward. These make the right side of the mouth look angry and the left one smiling. While Choraengyital represents the oppressed who resisted against the upper class , complaining and giving bad names to them, Yangbantal represents the intellects (ruling class) who didn't feel intimidated by the servants' resistance. Gaksital (bride mask) has the right eye face downward and the left one stare at the front. The former means passiveness that a bribe was supposed to have and the latter means discretion that she had to make to adopt herself into the new surroundings.