Words on One's Sleeve

Words on One's Sleeve
5 records
Words and images blended on a woman’s garment signaled superior taste and refinement. Stanzas or key words from classic poetry played an enriching role, suggesting a time or season, a place, or emotive moment. Courtly poems or narrative tales and noh plays were the sources for many of these designs. In the seventeenth or eighteenth century, as a form of playfulness, a character might be used instead of a motif (for example, the character for the word tiger would replace a picture of the animal). Sometimes the poem and image complemented each other; for example, a poem about longevity might be paired with a pine tree or crane, both symbols of long life.

- Hollis Goodall, Curator, Japanese Art (2007)