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Noh Costume (Karaori) with Pattern of Cypress Fans and Yūgao Blossoms

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
18th–early 19th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Twill-weave silk with brocading in silk and supplementary-weft patterning in silk and metallic thread
Dimensions:
Overall: 67 x 56 in. (170.2 x 142.2 cm)
Classification:
Costumes
Credit Line:
Gift of Dorothy F. Rolph, in memory of her sister, Helen L. Beloussoff, 1961
Accession Number:
61.151.6
  • Description

    This pattern of open cypress fans and blossoms from a yūgao gourd vine unmistakably evokes an episode from chapter 4 of The Tale of Genji—Prince Genji’s tragic affair with a mysterious young woman who responds to his poem by presenting a spray of yūgao blossoms on a fan and later dies at the hands of the jealous spirit of Genji’s neglected lover Lady Rokujō. The episode inspired a noh play called Yūgao, attributed to Zeami (ca. 1364–ca. 1443). In the play, the young woman appears as a ghost who achieves peace and enlightenment through the power of the Lotus Sutra.

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    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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