Noh costume (surihaku) with water, water plants, and leaves, Edo period (1615–1868), 19th century
Gold leaf on plain–weave silk; Overall 68 x 53 in. (165.1 x 134.6 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1958 (58.97.1)
Noh robes patterned with metallic leaf are called surihaku, a term also used for the textiles from which they are made. For this robe, the surihaku textile was decorated by applying paste through stencils, placing and pressing gold leaf onto the still-wet paste and finally, when the paste was dry, brushing away the excess gold leaf. Some surihaku robes have static, repetitive patterns, but the artful arrangement of the stencils for this robe yielded a fluid, rhythmic design.
In Noh performances, surihaku are worn as inner garments, often covered and seen only at the collar or shining almost imperceptibly through a gauzy cloak; sometimes, however, outer garments are draped or wrapped in such a way as to expose the surihaku's chest area, right sleeve, or even the entire upper portion of the robe.