Karyobin is a piece of Gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music), and one of 'Rinyu hachigaku' (eight old gagaku pieces from Vietnam). It belongs to Saho no gaku (category of gagaku music), or Togaku (Chinese music), and accompanies dance by four children; the dance performed to form Tsugaimai (a Pair of Dances) with Karyobin is called "Kocho" (butterfly). The title of this music is derived from a sacred bird called "Karyobinga," which has a human face and bird's body with a beautiful voice, living in paradise.
Probably, it was introduced from China and originally composed in Rinyu style (Vietnamese music); later, it was performed in the key of Ichikotsu (which closely corresponds to D major in Western music). This piece was also used for music entertainment; however, as its name suggests, it was mainly played as Bugaku (dance and music) in Buddhist events. When performed in shrines, it is often danced by shrine maidens.
This piece is also called 'Tori' (bird) when is arranged for wind and string music in the key of So (which closely corresponds to G major in Western music) or the key of Oshiki (which closely corresponds to A minor in Western music).
Costume and makeup
Dancers wear plain silk white hakama (loose-legged pleated trousers) and long-tailed, red-colored silk gauzy outer robes with a scattered pattern of little birds, holding Dobyoshi (two circular cymbals made of copper or iron) in their hands. Dancers also put leg guards shaped like gaiters, called "Toriashi" (鳥足) and wear Shigai (silk shoes); they put wings on their backs and breast pads on their breasts, made of whitewashed leather or multilayered Japanese paper on which drawings of wings in red and aquamarine ink are made. They wear gold-plated crowns with an arabesque design on their heads (in Gagaku, dancers put mountain shape tiaras on their forehead and metal headbands with two sword-shaped ornaments on their temporal region), and stick two sprays of cherry blossoms under each crown. Drawing files show that the dancer's hair is arranged in "Mizura" (a style of boys' hairdo in ancient times, in which the hair was parted down the middle of the head and a raised loop was formed on each side of the head) of which only the lower loop is formed. Generally, dancers put on heavy makeup with white powder like Chigo (child of festivity); however, in some cases, they wear no or light makeup.
In ancient times, children in these costumes rowed a boat at feasts.