Brocaded twill-weave silk with supplementary weft patterning in metallic thread
Overall 67 x 56 in. (170.2 x 142.2 cm)
Gift of Dorothy F. Rolph, in memory of her sister, Helen L. Beloussoff, 1961 (61.151.6)
This pattern of open cypress fans and blossoms from a gourd vine called yûgao unmistakably evokes Prince Genji's tragic affair with a mysterious young woman who answered his poem with a spray of such blossoms on a fan. This episode from "Yûgao," the fourth chapter of The Tale of Genji, inspired a Noh play of the same name attributed to Zeami (ca. 1364–ca. 1443). In the play, the young woman, who perished at the hands of the jealous spirit of Genji's wife, appears as a ghost who achieves peace and enlightenment through the power of the Lotus Sutra.
Karaori Noh costumes are usually worn as the outer garment for the roles of women. The woven textiles from which they are made, also called karaori, are characterized by long brocading wefts that resemble embroidery.