Noh Costume (Nuihaku) with Scattered Crests

Period: Edo period (1615–1868)

Date: second half of the 18th–19th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Silk embroidery and gold leaf on silk satin

Dimensions: Overall: 65 x 53 1/2 in. (165.1 x 135.9 cm)

Classification: Costumes

Credit Line: H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929

Accession Number: 29.100.541


There are over twenty different crests of varying size on this robe. Some of the designs have Buddhist significance, such as the manji (reverse swastika) and the circular “wheels of Buddhist law.” Others have auspicious symbolism or are purely decorative. These colorful crests with gold-leaf backgrounds (monzukushi) are customarily embroidered on white, black, red, or indigo Noh costumes made from satin. These costumes, called Nuihaku, are mainly worn by male actors playing young female protagonists. The waist area is left blank in a style known as koshi-ake (literally, “blank waist”) as these robes are often worn turned down at the waist.