Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Banner (Nobori)

Edo period (1615–1868)
Cotton, hemp (?), bamboo, paper
Overall: 338 x 27 1/2 in. (858.5 x 69.9 cm)
Textiles-Painted and Dyed
Credit Line:
Gift of John B. Elliott through the Mercer Trust, 1999
Accession Number:
Not on view
Nobori are banners that were used at festivals and public entertainments or to celebrate the birth of a son. The energetically dancing figure pictured on this banner can be identified by his bearded black mask as Sanbaso, the comic old man in Okina, a play in the Noh repertoire. The technique used to render Sanbaso is called tsutsugaki (literally, "tube drawing"). Paste was applied to the cloth through a tube fitted with a small metal tip. Then, when dyes and pigments were brushed on, the areas covered with paste resisted the color. Here, all the white lines that delineate details of the figure's garments resulted from the freehand application of paste.

Nobori generally come in two sizes. This example is of the larger size, consisting of two widths of cloth sewn together, and it has a total height of over twenty-five feet. Tabs along the top and one long side of the banner allowed it to be suspended and held in place, and the "pillow" attached to the lower corner added stability.

The upper part of the banner, not seen here, has an ink inscription recording its presentation to a shrine, Shohachimangu, location unknown, in the eighth month of 1827. The family crest seen at the lower left corner, paired branches of Japanese ginger (chigai myoga), was used by many families during the Edo period.
Inscription: The top of the banner is inscribed in ink. The inscription reads: hoken shohachimangu = Presented to Shohachimangu [possibly referring to a shrine also known as Kagoshima Jingu, in present-day Aira-gun, Kagoshima prefecture] and is dated the eighth month of Bunsei 10, which corresponds to 1827.
John B. Elliott , Princeton, NJ (until d. 1997) ; The Mercer Trust , 1997–1999
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