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Noh Robe (Kitsuke)

Inner garment of Noh costume for a female role, Nuihaku type. Nuihaku robes, characterized by their decoration of both embroidery and metallic stenciling, are worn primarily for female roles, either as inner garments or draped to hang from the waist. Although such robes are partially obscured when worn and made to be seen from a distance, the entire design is carefully considered and meticulous workmanship is evident even in the smallest details. In this example, embroidered flowers--including hydrangeas, peonies, pinks, bell flowers, and bush clover--spring from angular flower boxes filled with solid gold leaf. The background is a pattern of bent golden grasses weighed down by dew, represented by positive and negative dots, which serves as a reminder of the ephemeral.

Artist/maker unknown, Japanese

Made in Japan, Asia

Edo Period (1615-1868)


Silk satin weave decorated with gold leaf applied to a stenciled paste base, embroidered (partially over paper) with silk satin, stem, and basket stitches and French knots

Center Back Length: 54 inches (137.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Jay C. Leff, 1953

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    By the fifteenth century, Japanese Noh dramas, originally performed as part of religious ceremonies, had evolved into an officially sponsored entertainment fusing poetry, music, and dance. The costumes worn by the actors were made from sumptuous fabrics, often richly detailed with gold or silver stenciling and fine embroidery, their brilliance contrasting with the austerity of the stage upon which the plays were performed. The costumes not only defined the characters' roles but also elaborated on the poetic text of the play itself. This kimono-style Noh robe was used primarily for female roles (all the actors were male), and was worn as either an outer robe or inner robe depending on the character. Its red satin fabric is decorated with both embroidery and stenciled and impressed gold foil in an asymmetrical design of flower-bed boxes, over which are scattered chrysanthemums, bellflowers, bush clover, and dew drops. Dilys Blum, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 77.

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