Kumadori, also called kuma, is Kabuki’s most distinctive makeup technique. It is a nonrealistic makeup emphasizing the movement of the facial muscles. With this makeup, it is easy for the audience to see the actor’s face, even in weak lighting.
Kuma’s three basic colors are red, black, and blue, although red ochre (the oldest natural pigment in the world), purple, and gold are occasionally used as well. There are at least 100 varieties of this makeup, but the major ones are beni guma, which is chiefly made of red lines, and aiguma, consisting primarily of blue lines. The red color signifies righteousness, superhuman strength, and passion; blue indicates negative qualities such as fear and evil. The main aiguma is the hannya guma seen on the kugeaku (evil prince) characters in Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami and Shibaraku. This makeup symbolizes a feeling of deep hostility. Other aiguma types include the Fudo guma, based on the features of the deity Fudo. There also are special kuma for supernatural characters like the earth spider in Tsuchigumo (which uses the color brown) and the various gods, Buddhas, and devils.
Recently kabuki face packs are popular in Japan and it was chosen as the official souvenir for the G7 Ise Shima Summit 2016.
KABUKI ENCYCLOPEDIA by SAMUEL L. LEITER
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