Tagasode (“Whose Sleeves?”)

Period: Momoyama (1573–1615) or Edo (1615–1868) period

Date: first half of the 17th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, gold, silver, and gold leaf on paper

Dimensions: Overall (each screen): 59 1/4 x 10 ft. 10 11/16 in. (150.5 x 332 cm)

Classification: Screens

Credit Line: H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Mrs. Dunbar W. Bostwick, John C. Wilmerding, J. Watson Webb Jr., Harry H. Webb, and Samuel B. Webb, 1962

Accession Number: 62.36.2, .3


A group of screens bearing the poetic sobriquet Tagasode byōbu, or “Whose sleeves?,” depict an array of sumptuously patterned garments draped over clothing stands. The phrase “Whose Sleeves?” is found in classical love poems and was not commonly used to refer to this type of screen until the late nineteenth century. Yet, by the early seventeenth century, representations of clothing stands (ikō-zu) with lavish garments appear in painted handscrolls and woodblock-printed books. Such screens may have emerged from genre scenes with close-up views of single street scenes or intimate gatherings in indoor or outdoor settings. In “Whose Sleeves” screens, the figures have disappeared, leaving only a hint of their former presence amid garments draped over clothing stands. The garments depicted on this pair of screens reflect fashion trends of the late sixteenth through the early seventeenth century.