Robe for a Noh Theatre Actor (Japan)

Robe of a Noh actor in Japan, c. 1750-1850. Robe of a Noh actor in Japan, c. 1750-1850. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, acc. no. T.297-1963.

The Noh theatre in Japan was developed in the fourteenth century and reached its classical form some centuries later. It is marked by its austerity, understatement and frugality of expression. No actors were often wearing special garments called atsuita. These were worn under kariginu robes by the (male) actors. The decoration of the atsuita was often rather simple, since very little could be seen by the audience.

The robe discussed is 146 cm long and 132.5 cm wide across the shoulders. It is made of silk and embroidered with gold-coloured silk thread using satin stitch. Motifs include dragons and scrolling clouds.

According to the V&A online catalogue, the atsuita were originally imported from China. The cloth was made with long floating wefts of silk with gold (kinran) or silver (ginran) thread. They were imported rolled around wooden boards (called atsu-ita).

Source: JACKSON, Anna (2003). 'Ritual and drama: Japanese costume in the Victoria and Albert Museum,' Arts of Asia, Vol 33, no 2 (2003), p. 108, plate 13.

See also the Noh Theatre robe now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland (acc. no. 1974.36).

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 26th June 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 14:05