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Question124 What are the design rules for Noh fans?

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Gorgeous designs are a feature of the Noh fans known as chūkei. There are several rules, depending on the play and the role. A typical example of chūkei is shura-ōgi, used for the niban-me-mono second play of a program (also called shura-mono). Of the two main types, kachi-shura-ōgi have designs with a pine tree and the rising sun. Such fans are used in plays about warriors in triumphant battles, including "Yashima," "Tamura" and "Ebira." Meanwhile, the motifs of make-shura-ōgi, used by young Heike noblemen defeated in the Gen-Pei battle, are waves and the setting sun.

Kazura-ōgi are used for sanban-me-mono, the third play of the program (also called kazura-mono). Again, there are two divisions: iro-iri (coloured), with a tint of showy pink for young women wearing clothes of a similar tint, and iro-nashi (colourless), for old women wearing clothes without such tints.

There are several rules for the fans used in yonban-me-mono, or the fourth play of the program. Kyōjo-ōgi, used for kyōjo-mono (plays about mad women), have a purple tint indicating the age of the middle-aged women searching for their children or husbands. Oni-ōgi, used for "Dōjōji" and "Aoi-no-ue," have motifs of peony, as goblins are believed to like the flower.

For kami-noh (the first play of the program), it is customary to use tsuma-beni, a fan with a tint of showy pink at the top of each side.

Although these are the basic rules, you often see fans with different designs, depending on the day's program and the costume.

(September. 9, 2013)


illustration : Hiroko Sakaki
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