Introduction to Costuming a Warrior

In noh drama, many warrior roles depict young men in their late teens and early twenties who fought in the battles between the Taira clan (Heike) and the Minamoto clan (Genji) in the latter half of the twelfth century. Being both courageous warriors and sophisticated aristocratic courtiers with a highly refined aesthetic sensibility, these men wore costumes and masks that reflected elegance as well as strength.

1899 print of a warrior in Ikuta Atsumori.
(GloPAD Image 1000268)

Modern noh warrior
(GloPAD Image 1000535)

The basic elements that comprise their costumes were set in the mid-Edo period, in the early eighteenth century (above left). Paintings and prints from one hundred to two hundred years ago depict much the same figures as are seen on the noh stage today (above right).

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