Heaven Has a Face; So Does Hell

The Art of the Noh Mask

by Stephen E. Marvin

A remarkable combination of superb artistry, sophisticated design, and a lengthy history of continuous usage sets the masks of the Noh theater of Japan apart from all others. That so little is known outside of Japan about their great beauty and brilliant craftsmanship prompted the author to undertake the two decades of study, research, and writing that has culminated in this work. The result is nearly 800 pages of text and images published in a two-volume boxed edition limited to 1200 copies.

Volume 1 consists of an extended treatise on the history of Noh and the evolution of its masks, including mask forms and functions, types and roles, nomenclature and taxonomy, mask carvers and their lineages, signatures, and other markings. It includes plot and character synopses of the plays most often staged as well as others other rarely performed, with particulars about the masks used by various troupes for the principle roles.

Volume 2 is an album showcasing in full color over 140 of the finest masks of Noh, both ancient and more recent, with detailed information on their creation, character, and significance, as well as photos of their backs showing inscriptions and artists’ signatures. An extensive bibliography, glossary, and index round out this presentation of an exquisite, centuries-old art form. No existing publication on the subject, in either English or in Japanese, remotely compares in scope and depth to the present work.

"Stephen Marvin promises readers deeper knowledge of this topic… His exhaustive and beautifully produced two-volume study more than succeeds in doing this, becoming the definitive reference to Noh masks."
— Eric Rath, University of Kansas, Asian Theatre Journal

"This sumptuously produced, two-volume set is not only a work of art in its own right; it is a Golconda of information that literally puts a face on a recondite subject. The author writes with lucid energy, and the set stands as a landmark in the study of the Noh mask and its contexts. The volumes feel good in the hand; the fine details, down to the iridescent bronze-colored ribbon used for marking the page, speak of meticulous attention. Bravi to Stephen Marvin and to Floating World Editions for this surpassing accomplishment."
— Melinda Takeuchi, Impressions: The Journal of the Japanese Art Society of America

"Heaven Has a Face is one of the most beautiful books I have worked with, intelligently laid out, and beautifully printed—and, of course, photographed; clearly, this is a publisher everyone interested in aesthetics should know about. The book is such a generous gift to all of us who want to understand or even just appreciate Noh, Japanese aesthetics, world theater, and the mysteries of the human heart and their physical manifestations that every collector will want a copy, every student of aesthetics will want to take a look, and every serious library should make it available."
— The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism

Stephen E. Marvin is a graduate of Stanford University in Asian Studies who has lived in the Far East continuously since 1982 and is fluent in both Japanese and Korean. In the course of his research he examined firsthand nearly 1000 Noh masks, including those held by traditional Noh troupes and in the collections of the finest museums; he benefited from the tutelage of several of the leading Japanese authorities on Noh masks and was privileged to interview the Grand Masters of the Kongpo and Umekawa troupes on numerous occasions.

416 & 352 pp, 8.5 x 11, Hard, two volumes, boxed
150 full color, 220 monochrome illustrations, bibliography, glossary, index
Japanese art & collectibles/ Theater arts
ISBN: 978-1891640-32-2
$300.00