Women’s Kabuki

Studio of Kano Takanobu Japanese

Not on view

The focus of this composition is a young woman dressed as a gallant samurai, performing the Kabuki skit Chaya asobi, or “Teahouse Entertainments.” Her comic sidekick, the manservant Saruwaka (Young Monkey)—also played by a woman—holds a branch of maple leaves or flowers.

In its earliest phase, Kabuki was performed by female dancers or courtesans playing both men and women in sexually provocative skits. Kabuki as we know it today—a respected form of classical theater with complex plots performed by male actors in men’s and women’s roles—did not emerge until the end of the seventeenth century. This recently rediscovered work is one of a pair; its mate depicts merrymaking in the Kitano district of Kyoto.

Women’s Kabuki, Studio of Kano Takanobu (Japanese, 1571–1618), Six-panel folding screen; ink, color, gold, silver, and gold leaf on paper, Japan

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.