Noh theatre robe, Atsuita (late 18th century-early 19th century)

Noh is a masked dance-drama in which the extreme stylisation of actors’ movements and music evokes a beautiful and mysterious setting for narratives that move between the human and spiritual realms. It is regarded by many as one of the foundations of Japanese culture and as representative of the unique Japanese aesthetic of yūgen (mysterious or elusive beauty). Noh robes became formalised during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and were based on the elegant attire of the ruling warrior classes. The striking design of this atsuita costume, worn mainly for male roles, displays the auspicious symbols of sasa bamboo grass leaves; kumochōban cloud-shaped gongs; karabana stylised flowers; and interlocking shika-no-tsuno deer horns.