Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Kosode with Scenes from Nō Plays

Edo period (1615–1868)
late 18th–early 19th century
Resist-dyed and embroidered silk crepe
72 x 50 in. (182.9 x 127cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Hamilton King, 1956
Accession Number:
Not on view
In the late Edo period, kosode (“small-sleeved” robes) with this type of decorative scheme—dense landscape patterns accompanied by scenes alluding to traditional Japanese literature—conveyed an aristocratic flavor and were popular among women of the samurai class. The back of this robe features motifs that allude to three Nō plays. At the lower center, a colorful feather robe, fishing rod, and creel recall The Feather Mantle (Hagoromo), a play about a fisherman who finds a celestial being’s feather robe on a pine branch at Miho Beach. The divinity performs a dance to retrieve her robe and then ascends to heaven.

Near the seam of the left sleeve are a helmet, crossed arrows, and plum trees that recall The Quiver (Ebira). In this play, a warrior of the Genji clan, Kajiwara Kagesue (1162–1200), performs bravely in battle against the Heike near the Ikuta River (near modern Kobe), with a plum branch in his quiver.

Lady Shizuka at Yoshino (Yoshino Shizuka) is represented at the seam of the right sleeve by an eboshi court hat, a fan, and a drum in a stage-prop structure surrounded by blossoming cherry trees. In this play, the famous twelfth-century warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune angers his powerful brother Yoritomo and is forced to flee. His lover, Shizuka, uses a seductive dance to distract his enemies, allowing him to reach safety on Mt. Yoshino.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "Dressed in Splendor: Japanese Costume from 1700–1926," June 27, 1987–August 9, 1987.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Noh Robes," 1993.

Comune di Roma. "La Seta e La Sua Via," December 15, 1993–March 14, 1994.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art (Part One)," October 12, 1995–April 28, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art, Part II," May 1, 1996–September 8, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Resonant Image: Tradition in Japanese Art (Part Two)," April 27, 1998–September 27, 1998.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sense of Place: Landscape in Japanese Art," May 8, 2002–September 8, 2002.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Travel in Japanese Art," December 18, 2008–May 31, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection," February 1, 2014–September 7, 2014.

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