Variants of Noh Warrior Costumes: Captions

First Row: Color and Pattern Variations

Atsumori
Atsumori
(GloPAD Image 1001959)

The flute-playing Atsumori, who faced a valiant death when only a teenager, is portrayed wearing an embroidered satin underrobe (nuihaku) of red, the color of youth. To complement the red, he wears a green cloak (chōken) and white skirts (ōkuchi). For this role, the boyish jūroku ("sixteen") mask often replaces the chūjō mask. The tilt of the hat to the actor's right indicates Atsumori is a defeated Heike warrior, as does the fan featuring a red sun sinking into the waves. For the victorious warrior fan, see the Yashima image.

 

Tsunemasa
Tsunemasa
(GloPAD Image 1000630)

The overall color combination for this performance of the lute player Tsunemasa resembles that of Atsumori (above): red-ground underrobe, green cloak (chōken) and white skirts (ōkuchi). The stiff weft-patterned atsuita underrobe with its geometric forms in primary colors lends a strong impression. The sleeve of the cloak has been flipped over the actor's left arm. The mask is chūjō.

 

Tadanori
Tadanori
(GloPAD Image 1000535)

For the poet-warrior Tadanori, complementary shades of light colors were chosen. The large interlocking circles on the weft-patterned underrobe (atsuita) echo the color scheme in the sea-scape decorated skirts (mon-ōkuchi). The large gold butterflies appear as textured reflections on the bright yellow of the cloak (chōken). According to the actor Nomura Shirō, the butterflies symbolize the beautiful culmination of death-like transmutations that mark the cycle of insect life. Butterflies also complement the image of the blossoming cherry tree that dominates the play. To sharpen the effect of light colors, contrasting blue cords have been attached to the yellow cloak. The mask is chūjō.

 

Michimori"
Michimori
(GloPAD Image 1000783)

Michimori wears dark sea colors and appears in the play with his wife, who later drowns. The large interlocking circles on the weft-patterned underrobe (atsuita) here appear muted by the deep blue cloak (chōken) with scattered gold motifs and the dark green skirts with a large splattering-wave pattern in bright gold. These skirts are the glossy, metallic-patterned hangiri, rather than the plain ōkuchi, and lend the figure vigor and strength. The mask is chūjō.

 

Second Row: Draping and Garment Substitutions

Kiyotsune
Kiyotsune
(GloPAD Image 1000483)

Kiyotsune's costume reflects both his valor and his sense of fatality that led him to choose suicide when faced with the inevitable destruction of his entire clan. Here the extensive use of gold in the cloak (chōken) and glossy metallic-patterned skirts (hangiri) suggests flashing armor, particularly while the actor enacts battling in the final scene of the play. Yet the scrolling vines on the broad left sleeve have an elegant touch. The mask is chūjō.

 

Kiyotsune
Kiyotsune
(GloPAD Image 1000451)

Here Kiyotsune's costume balances his introspectiveness with his military role by allowing the colors to reflect the former and the draping of the cloak (chōken) the latter. In particular, the lavender of the decorated skirts (mon-ōkuchi) evokes a gentility of heart and has a disturbing yet intriguing interplay with the red of the embroidered satin underrobe (nuihaku). Hiking up both of the broad sleeves of the cloak so that they form thick panels running down the chest suggests the shape of Japanese armor. The mask is chūjō.

 

Yashima
Yashima
(GloPAD Image 1001146)

For the great hero Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who retrieves his arrow from the sea, the heita mask with rounded eyes and sweeping mustache is used. Dynamic, large-scale patterns in glittering metal against dark, glossy grounds are common on happi cloaks and hangiri skirts, both chosen here. To enhance the armor-like form, the sleeves of the happi have been hiked up. Strong, contrasting colors in the weft-patterned underrobe (atsuita) and the ground colors of the cloak and red skirts create an impression of vigor. Tilting the hat (nashiuchi eboshi) to the actor's left indicates that Yoshitsune was victorious in battle.

 

Yashima
Yashima
(GloPAD Image 1002076)

Here the valiant Yoshitsune is given a more elegant treatment by softening the pattern in the weft-patterned underrobe (atsuita), draping the cloak (happi) with one sleeve loose to display its full, flowing volume and choosing a dense overall pattern for the green skirts (hangiri). The fan with the sun rising behind the pines and the left tilt of the hat (nashiuchi eboshi) indicate Yoshitsune's victory. The heita mask used here has a reddish tinge.

 

Third Row: Special Roles

Tamura
Tamura
(GloPAD Image 1001060)

For the deified warrior Sakanoue no Tamuramaru, green-patterned skirts (hangiri) and colorfully patterned underrobe (atsuita) are offset by a startling white cloak. Although the standard cloak for the role is a happi, here the actor has chosen to drape a hunting cloak (kariginu) similar to a happi with hiked-up sleeves. The round collar of the hunting cloak has been rolled under at the chest; its overlapping front panels form an unbroken cover along the front of the body, unlike the split-panel draping of both the happi and the chōken. The masculine aura of the heita mask with its rounded eyes, muscular cheeks and dark mustache lends the figure authority. The rising-sun fan is used by victorious fighters.

 

Sanemori
Sanemori
(GloPAD Image 1000942)

The aged warrior Sanemori wears an old man's mask (asakurajō) and a white wig (shirotare). His status and strength can be seen in the selection of more masculine robe types: atsuita for underrobe, hangiri for skirts, and happi for the cloak. As the text mentions Sanemori receiving permission to go into battle wearing red, usually reserved for the highest ranks and generally limited to the young of age, his costume often includes one red garment, here the ground of the patterned skirts.

 

Yorimasa
Yorimasa
(GloPAD Image 1001197)

The experienced warrior Yorimasa, who made a valiant last stand at the Uji River, wears a special mask designed for the role. Each school has its own variation of the Yorimasa mask, but all masks portray an older man with weathered features, rounded eyes, and whitish hair. The cloth head gear, Yorimasa zukin, is also specific to the role. The costume's dynamic impression is created by Buddhist symbols on the blue, tortoise-shell ground of the underrobe (atsuita), the large, gold lozenges on the patterned skirts (hangiri), and the overall pattern of webbed circles on the cloak (happi).

 

Ikarikazuchi
Ikarikazuki
(GloPAD Image 1002458)

In the final battle of the Genpei war, Taira no Tomomori wields his halberd (naginata) in pursuit of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, fails to kill him, and then dons multiple helmets to weight himself like an anchor (ikari) before jumping overboard. The desperation of his pursuit demands wild hair (kurogashira) and a haggard mask (ayakashi), often used for vengeful ghosts. The heavy helmets are indicated by the addition of helmet horns to the lacquered hat (nashiuchi eboshi). Hiking up the sleeves of the cloak suggests armor. Strong patterns decorate all the garments: "mountain path" zigzags and "three comma" tomoe designs on a blue ground for the underrobe (atsuita), arrows and lightning in gold on an indigo ground for the happi cloak, and large silver waves suggestive of the watery setting on the patterned skirts (hangiri).

 

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