Kyōgen kataginu for child's role with Chinese bellflower and chest patterns,

orig. 1927-1928

by Yamaguchi Ryōshū

IHL Cat. #2696


Each of the volumes making up "Kyōgenga taikan" includes a print depicting two designs for kataginu, the sleeveless robe with pointed shoulders used as a stage costume in kyōgen plays. 

The kataginu is worn mainly by the characters of common people, including the servant Tarō Kaja. For higher ranking characters the kataginu is combined with a pair of long hakama trousers made of the same dyed fabric.[1]  The fabric is typically hemp.

In this print, the top design consists of what may be stylized Chinese bellflowers. The bottom design appears to be that of chests floating above a rimpa-style stream. The top design suggests this kataginu was for a child's role.


What is Kygen

In formal terms it is "the medieval comic form [dating from the mid-14th century] that evolved alongside the serious noh and, like noh, became a seminal influence on kabuki and puppet theater."[1] While "noh is usually about gods and spirits . . .  kyōgen is always about human beings."[2] It is noh's comedic counterpart, "sandwiched between two noh plays, or even between two halves of a single drama."[3] Today, there are two schools of kyōgen, the Ōkura school 大蔵流  and the Izumi school 和泉流.

"The kyōgen doings are based on a slender repertoire of situations. [About 260 plays.] A lord has a stupid servant (always called Tarō Kaja. . .) who cannot tell a fan from an umbrella [as in the play "Suehirogari"], or who inadvertently gives away to his mistress his master's philanderings, or who drinks up all the sake and fills up the bottles with hot water and then tries to talk the master into thinking he is getting drunk. Tarō is joined by a large cast of comic characters, each as distinctive as himself, each sublimely stupid, as gloriously sly, as eternally innocent. [I]t is our foibles that kyōgen celebrates.[4]

[1] New Kabuki Encyclopedia: A Revised Adaptation of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1997, p. 374.

[2] A Guide to Kyogen, Don Kenny, Hinoki Shoten, 1968, p. 7. 

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid., p. 8.

Print Details

Kyōgen kataginu for child's role with Chinese bellflower and chest patterns

蓼洲模 Ryōshū mo with Ryōshū seal

Print as it was originally issued (1927-1928), tipped into a volume of Kyōgenga taikan.