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Exhibition of Japanese theatrical masks and puppets in Germany

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Cologne (dpa) - An exhibition of masks, puppets and other items from 11 centuries of Japanese theatre is currently showing at the Museum of East Asian Art in the German city of Cologne.

All the main schools of Japanese theatre are represented in the show, which continues to the end of February.

The museum says the oldest item and greatest treasure in the show is an 8th century mask used in gigaku, a form of pantomime that is one of the world's most ancient theatre arts.

Other items illustrate bugaku, the theatre of the court, or the highly stylized no dance-drama of the 14th and 15th century.

The puppet theatre bunraku is an eyecatcher, along with kabuki, a grotesque style of Japanese theatre that western audiences do not readily understand at first glance, the museum notes.

Many of the items on display are from private European collections.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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