Kabuki is a style of traditional Japanese theater that includes music, dance, and drama. First performed by females, after 1629 only male actors could take part in Kabuki, and they played both the male and female characters. Kabuki characters are often drawn from Japanese folklore, and a major part of the Kabuki performance is the dramatic makeup worn by the actors. This makeup is applied heavily to create a brightly painted mask that uses colors in symbolic ways to indicate the age, gender, and class of each character, as well as their moods and personalities. Each actor applies his own makeup, with the process of applying makeup allowing the actor to get to know the character he plays. First, the actor applies oils and waxes on his face to help the makeup stick to the skin. Then a thick coat of white makeup called oshiroi is put on to cover the whole face. The white face creates a dramatic look onstage, and many historians believe that the white faces were more easily seen in the centuries before stages were lit with electricity. On this white face, red and black lines are used to outline the eyes and mouth, which are also shaped differently for male and female characters. While this kabuki girl tattoo is by no means a traditional Japanese tattoo, it was fun to draw inspiration from theatrical costume and make it into something my client imagined. Thanks, Noel, it was a super fun one!
Traditional Tattoos by Minneapolis Tattooer Mimi Wunsch
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