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Chūkei as the Latest Fashion Accessory as Seen in Suehirogari.

Chūkei fan
Fans whose top extend when closed are known as chūkei,
and those that don’t as ōgi. On the Noh stage shite and
other performers hold chūkei, and jiutai, hayashi and kōken
hold regular ōgi.

Photo by Akira Taniguchi

While nohgaku is now certainly a traditional art, in the Muromachi era, it was part of the avant-garde. This trend was best seen in the kyōgen play Suehirogari.

Chūkei were a leading product during the Muromachi era. This is well expressed in the kyōgen play Suehirogari. This play is extremely important in the history of Noh craftsmanship. Regular fans came before the suehirogari or Chūkei, and the intellectual class that was fond of new things first became aware of the suehiro. Regular people like Taro Kaja were just not aware of them. One of the daimyō learned of them, and sent Taro to buy one. But since Taro didn’t know what to buy, he ended up hiding. The fact that the people who watched the play at the time understood this demonstrated that suehiro were in fact very new.

While the objects used in Noh are now considered to be classical and traditional, 600 years ago Noh itself was new. That is why they used the newest props. The shōguns and aristocrats that later supported Noh surely made the performers include such objects.

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