The white mask is stark, almost flat, devoid of features. Expressionless.
Yet, it carries a secret.
Once it comes to live - on stage -- it will convey truths that cannot be perceived by human eye alone. It will transport us into another world.
In the West, masks serve to conceal and hide things.
In Noh, the function of a mask is to bring to the surface the passions, desires, and tensions hidden deep down in human souls.
Therefore, Noh masks are way more than stage props. Instead, they effect a kind of sorcery.
For this reason, actors treat Noh masks with great respect and enormous care -- they consider them to be sacred objects.
Before going on stage, actors stare at masks to absorb their features, and after putting them on, they gaze into a mirror as if seeing into their souls.
There is a shamanistic element in that, as if they were submitting to the mask's spirit.
It’s a highly intimate moment.