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"Miracles and Mischief: Noh and Kyogen Theater in Japan"
2002-11-10 until 2003-02-02
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA,
Miracles and Mischief: Noh and Kyogen Theater in Japan features carved wooden masks, woven and embellished costumes, lacquered musical instruments, and painted screens and handscrolls, many of which have never been exhibited outside of Japan. LACMA will be the only North American venue. Known for more than 600 years as Japan’s most influential forms of theater, noh and Kyogen evolved out of street entertainment, seasonal agricultural festivals, and religious rituals. Dating from the 14th through the 20thcenturies, the art objects in the exhibition are gathered from the most important museum, shrine, temple, theater, and daimyo family collections in Japan, many of which have been designated as Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government. This exhibition also gives LACMA an opportunity to share several extraordinary noh objects from its own collections as well as important objects from other American collections.
Miracles and Mischief: Noh and Kyogen Theater in Japan showcases more than 100 exquisite and fascinating costumes that represent the variety of forms used in noh and Kyogen repertories. Costumes are classified according to tailoring, weave structure, design patterns, and use. Three main groups differentiated by tailoring and use are: osode—outer garments with broad sleeves with large wrist openings; kosode—kimono-style robes with narrower sleeves and small wrist openings; and hakama—pleated or bifurcated skirts. The light-sensitivity of the art objects requires that they will be presented in two installations, with the second presentation going on view December 19 (the galleries will be closed to the public December 16, 17, and 18 for the rotation). Each installation presents a full overview of the development of noh and Kyogen.
Miracles and Mischief will highlight outstanding examples of Kosode including the 16th-century Kariginu with Herons and Reeds of silk satin with embroidery and gold leaf belonging to Neo Kasuga Shrine; designated an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. Suo¯ with Pine, Bamboo Curtains, Plum Blossoms, Poem Cards, Roundels, and Seashore Landscape Picture Cards is marvelous Kyogen Kosode costume on loan from the Hayashibara Museum of Art.
Kosode-style noh robes are categorized according to decorative technique. Those made from lusterous textiles, like satin, are worn as undergarments or combined to form outfits. These include the surihaku decorated with stenciled patterns of metallic leaf such as the Surihaku with Picture Cards and Grapevines from the Tokyo National Museum and the noshime, a plainweave silk of solid color bands like Noshime with Horizontal Bands belonging to the Itsukushima Shrine.
Kosode-style robes with woven pictorial weft patterning (karaori, atsuita, and atsuita-karaori) are distinguished from each other by ground-weave structure, design, and use. LACMA’s recently acquired Karaori with Snow-Laden Camellias and Genji Clouds, an exquisite 18th-century robe made of red silk twill weave with silk and gold leaf paper supplementary weft patterning, will be on display for the first time since its acquisition.
Important 17th-18th-century folding screen paintings, handscrolls, and albums depict memorable scenes from noh performances and catch the essence of the plays and costumes. 17th-century genre paintings showing artisans at work will be accompanied by weaving materials and tools used in the making of the sumptuous textiles.
Miracles and Mischief includes over 30 masks dating from the 14th through 19th centuries. The masks represent those worn for male and female roles, including the Jo (Old man) Mask (Nanbokucho period, 1369), an Important Cultural Property on loan from Nagataki Hakusan Shrine, and the Omi-onna Mask (Momoyama period, mid-to-late 16th century) from the Tokyo National Museum. Mask-making tools will also be on display. All 30 masks will remain on view during the entire exhibition.
Miracles and Mischief concludes with a treatise on the religio-aesthetic character of noh by the important fifteenth-century actor, playwright, and dramaturge Konparu Zenchiku; flutes, drums and songbooks; and a selection of costume ensembles that will give viewers a sense of what certain characters from specific plays wore, along with props.
Karaori with Snow-laden Camellias and Genji Clouds
Edo period, 18th century
Multicolored silk and gold-leaf paper
supplementary weft patterning on silk twill.
LACMA, Costume Council Fund.