Noh Costume (Karaori) with Cherry Blossoms and Fretwork

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: first half of the 18th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Brocaded silk twill

Dimensions: Overall: 65 1/2 x 64 1/2 in. (166.4 x 163.8 cm)

Classification: Costumes

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1919

Accession Number: 19.88.2


An intense chromatic effect is achieved in this robe, with its cherry blossoms in a range of colors scattered over bands of red and green. Fallen within moments after their full flowering, the blossoms poignantly evoke the transience of human life, a central theme in Noh drama. The inclusion of red places this costume in the category of robes "with color" (iroiri), making it appropriate for the role of a young woman.

Among the formal and technical characteristics that point to an eighteenth-century date for the robe are the absence of metallic threads, the allover patterning, and the length and softness of the textile's floating silk pattern wefts.