Beshimi mask offering to a Shinto Shrine

Historical period(s)
Momoyama or Edo period, late 16th-17th century
H x W x D (overall): 40.7 x 29.3 x 20 cm (16 x 11 9/16 x 7 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Collected by Seymour J. Janow and gifted in his memory by his family
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


demon, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, Momoyama period (1573 - 1615), Shinto

To 2003
Seymour J. Janow, Washington, DC, acquired in Japan, to 2003 [1]

From 2003
Freer Gallery of Art, given by the family of Seymour J. Janow in 2003


[1] According to Curatorial Note 1, Ann Yonemura, September 30, 2003, in the object record.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Mrs. Selma Janow


Masks, considered religious icons in themselves, were not always meant for performances. A believer offered this example to a shrine to accrue divine goodwill. Notice how the eyes have no holes to see through; the mask was never intended to be worn. But this type of mask—called beshimi and used to represent fierce demons and other powerful creatures—was also popular for use in rituals and theater.

Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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