Noh Mask Artist: Roger Voltz

Roger Voltz standing in front of his artworks at the recently exhibition in Shziuoka Bank Shizuogin Gallery Yonki.

“I would like to leave a legacy for the younger generation to continue.”

Roger Voltz (63, a French citizen born in St. Denis in the suburbs of Paris, came to Shizuoka City in 1973 to settle down after a long travel through the woorld.
A University language lecturer by trade he had always been attracted by the Japanese culture.

Apart of becoming in martial arts he has been carving Noh masks for the last 18 years.
Noh Theater is one of the oldest forms of theater in Japan (originating out of combination of Chinese performing arts, known as sarugaku, and traditional Japanese dance called dengaku、 during the Muromachi Era, 13th~16th Century) and has attained great fame in World Performing Arts for its intricate dances, music and acting.
The actors are exclusively male and usually only the main one wears a mask(s) on stage.

Akobujou/阿古父尉/Old Man

There are five Noh Theater “Schools” all possessing their own original masks.
But the same masks have to be duplicated according to rules and traditions as obviously these original masks are really worn, invaluable relics they are!

Hanjo/班女/Lady Han

So far Roger has carved and exhibited 20 masks under the guidance of his Master, Kishinosuke Atsumi.
5 of them were exhibited at The Exhibition held with three more artists at the Shizuoka Bank/Shizugin Gallery Yonki March 10th~16th.
He is far from being a new face in the art as he has already exhibited in the Shizuoka Prefecture Museum and in Mariko.

Kantan Otoko/邯鄲男/The Man form Kantan

Carving the masks in wood is a long and intricate process taking 8~10 months in Roger’s cas as he can create them only during his spare time.

Yamanba/山姥/the Old Mountain Crone

Each mask weighs 130g~150g for female characters and 150~180 g for male counterparts.

Hashihime/橋姫/Princess Hashi (the mask of jealousy!)

Each mask is carved out of a block of either hinoki/檜/Japanese cypress or kusunoki/楠/camphor tree, both valuable wood in this country.
The process was kindly demonstrated with maks carvedin different stages at the exhibition:

The “four main stages”

A rough picture is drawn on a block weighing around 1 kg.

A rough mask is carved with help of hard paper measures.

The face is gradually carved in more details with the help of hard paper model.

The finished product hollowed out to fit the face of the actor with holes for the eyes and mouth!
It will then be careful painted.

I’m planning to interview Roger in his atelier soon to show you a more detailed explanation!

If you want to contact Roger directly for more information, write to him at !

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