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Lady Aoi, from Fifty Noh Plays, Illustrated (Yōkyoku gojū-ban, Aoi no Ue)

Tosa Mitsuoki Japanese

Not on view

Lady Rokujō’s wandering spirit is featured in the play Lady Aoi, named for her victim, Genji’s wife. In this deluxe edition of the libretto (utaibon), paintings of two scenes provide a glimpse of what audiences saw on the early modern stage. A folded robe lying on the stage represents the ailing Aoi during the entire play, as Lady Rokujō seeks retribution for her humiliation at the “Battle of the Carriages.” At the climax, Rokujō’s vengeful spirit in a horned hannya demon mask battles a holy man called to subdue her. As drums and a flute play at a frenzied tempo, the spirit fights against the exorcism and attacks with a long wand, until the Buddhist incantations prove too powerful and she acknowledges defeat.

Lady Aoi, from Fifty Noh Plays, Illustrated (Yōkyoku gojū-ban, Aoi no Ue), Tosa Mitsuoki (Japanese, 1617–1691), Sixth of ten-volume set; thread-bound books; ink and color on gold-decorated paper, Japan

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