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'Karaori' noh robe with design of flowers of the four seasons on sectioned red-and-white background

19th century


Unknown Artist


Costumes for nô performance embody the highest achievements in Japanese textile and are an important part of the art of the samurai class that dominated Japan for 700 years prior to the mid-19th century. Unlike kabuki, the commoners' theatre, nô plays were characterized by their spiritual intensity, traditionally performed only once at special occasions: festivals, dedication to the gods/ ancestral spirits, welcoming important guests and so on. Of all nô costumes, 'karaori' (Chinese weave) is considered the best because of its special quality: all patterns are woven instead of embroidered, a technique developed in imitation of Chinese textile. 'Karaori' robes with red colour are worn by performers in young female roles. The design, flowers of the four seasons, makes this piece particularly bright and attractive.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 15 October 2002.


Other Title

'Karaori' nô robe

Place where the work was made



19th century

Media category


Materials used

silk and gold metallic thread supplementary wefts in a silk twill ground


152.5 x 144.0 cm


Purchased 2002

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Glorious, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 May 2017–2018

Referenced in 5 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2003 [for the year ended 30 June 2003], Sydney, 2003, 2 (colour illus.), 21 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2004, Sydney, 2004, 17 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The World of Samurai Culture', Sydney, 2003, 211 (colour illus.).

Public Programmes Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales and The Japan Foundation (Editors), Art speaks Japanese: Japanese language education kit from the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2007, colour illus.. card no. 09

Masterpieces of noh costume, Tokyo, 1990, 17 (colour illus.), 74. 6