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Whose Sleeves? (Tagasode)

Period:
Momoyama period (1573–1615)
Date:
late 16th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on gilt paper
Dimensions:
Overall (each screen): 57 1/16 x 136 9/16 in. (144.9 x 346.8 cm)
Classification:
Screens
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
29.100.493, .494
  • Description

    Clothing draped casually on a rack hints at an absent wearer, prompting the question, "Whose sleeves?" (tagasode)—a unique phrase that appears in classical Japanese poetry. Screens that alluded to this romantic subject became popular in the Momoyama period. Illustrated here are not the garments of classical Japan but the contemporary kosode, a robe with narrow openings at the sleeves that is the direct antecedent of both the modern kimono and the elaborate costumes of Noh drama. Lively patterns of fans, waterwheels, and stylized characters are combined to rich and decorative effect. Generally unsigned, tagasode screens are thought to have been painted by "town painters," artists whose ready-made works were sold in shops in Kyoto. Here, the presentation of the theme includes several robes; household necessities, such as the large lacquer chest; and woman's accessories, such as the amulet hanging on the rack above.

  • See also
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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