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Noh Costume (Karaori) with Shell-Matching Game Boxes and Shells


Not on view

This Noh theater robe (karaori) was designed for a female role. Its impressive composition features painted shells and shell-matching game lacquer boxes that had an important role in both the Edo-period wedding ceremony and the bridal trousseau. Each shell has matching halves that fit together to symbolize a perfect married couple in a happy and successful union. This game is not featured in The Tale of Genji; it was developed later. Both the shells and their storage boxes came to be embellished with Genji scenes in the Edo period. As auspicious symbols, the shell-matching boxes were popular design elements on kosode robes; however, they rarely appeared on Edo-period Noh costumes. Here, the lacquer boxes are decorated with pine branches, a symbol of longevity, and balloon flowers.

Noh Costume (Karaori) with Shell-Matching Game Boxes and Shells, Twill-weave silk ground with discontinuous supplementary-weft patterning in silk and gilt-paper strips, Japan

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