Article Title

Chinese Nuo and Japanese Noh: Nuo's Role in the Origination and Formation of Noh


Min Tian


This article introduces the Chinese Nuo rite and Nuo theater to the West from a historical perspective and also attempts to trace the origination and development of Japanese Noh drama from the Chinese Nuo rite and other sources. It examines the evolution of the Chinese Nuo rite and its influence upon, and incorporation into, the ancient Japanese religious ceremonies that contributed to the formation and development of Noh drama. It also compares a variety of masks used both in Chinese Nuo theater and in Japanese rites of exorcism and Noh theater to identify similarities and to delineate possible connections between them. The article demonstrates that, in addition to sanyue, Chinese Nuo played a significant role in the early formation of Japanese Noh drama. The early practice of tsuina rites in Japanese royal courts and among the people and its later integration with sanyue (sarugaku) and their reciprocal assimilation and transformation contributed to the formulation of Noh's ritual and religious character and performance structure. In addition, the possible incorporation of Chinese folk rituals and performances such as Nuo drama and Mulian drama was also instrumental in the transformation of tsuina rituals into Noh drama.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.