Korean Hahoe masks are a long-standing cultural tradition. They are national treasures and treated as worldwide masterpieces of mask art. Hahoe masks (Hahoe Tal) were originally comprised of 12 masks, but now only 9 are remaining and are designated as Cultural Treasure of Korea, and the other three are lost. They were created in the mid-Goryeo Dynasty era by craftsman Huh Chongkak. It is not clear how and why they originated, but according to one myth, he was ordered to create 12 masks having no contact with people. While making the last mask, a girl peeked into his workshop, and the craftsman immediately suffered a stroke and died. The final mask, ‘The Fool,’ was left incomplete without a lower jaw.
<How to make Korean masks>
01 Mold the clay into the shape of a face and pour on the plaster.
02 When the plaster hardens, dig out the clay and apply soapy water to the inside of the plaster mold and glue in pieces of traditional mulberry paper.
03 When the glued traditional mulberry paper is dried, remove it from the plaster mold.
04 Paint the mask to suit the character.
05 Attach a strap and a piece of cloth to the top of the finished mask.
01 Use a saw and a chisel to cut out a properly sized piece of wood.
02 Chisel out the back of the wood, creating the hollow of the mask's back.
03 Chisel out the face on the front of the mask.
04 Carve out the details of the face.
05 Glue pieces of traditional mulberry paper over the mask.
06 Paint the mask in the appropriate colors.
More commonly, these masks are used in Korean dramas and dance, Hahoe Tal Chum (Hahoe Mask Dance Drama). It is one of the traditional folk plays of Korea. It includes the 9 remaining masks as allegorical characters – Yangban (the arrogant aristocrat), Kaksi (the bride), Chung (the Buddhist monk), Choraengi (Yangban’s clownish servant), Sonbi (the pedantic scholar), Bune (the concubine), Imae (the jawless foolish servant), Baekjung (the murderous butcher), and Halmi (the older woman). The three missing masks are Chongkak (the bachelor), Byulchae (the tax collector), and Toktari (the older man).
The Hahoe masks are uniquely crafted, and you can use them as a wall decoration to make your walls look more interesting. Some masks have a separate jaw, mimicking a real jaw that opens when the mask is moved. You can find the masks easily on CCOREA