Hagoromo / The Feathered Robe
“Hagoromo, the Feathered Robe, a new woodblock print for March 2017
I'm pleased to announce the release of a new woodblock print design, Hagoromo, or The Feathered Robe, a title taken from a famous Noh play of the late 15th or early 16th century. This is the second design in the occasional series Honga Dori (Pictorial Allusions, Reused Blocks), the first of which was Kasa (Umbrellas) of September 2014. As with many of my recent prints, the format is Dai-ōban, 47 x 33cm, 18.5 x 13 inches, printed in an edition of 100. As I often do, I have utilised many luxury printing techniques, such as gold mica here imitating gold leaf, bronze and silver metallic pigments and extensive deep embossing in the outer robe.
In a the Noh play Hagoromo, a fisherman is walking with his companions at night when he finds the Hagoromo, the magical feather-mantle of a tennin (an aerial spirit or celestial dancer) hanging on a bough. The tennin sees him taking it and demands its return, as she cannot return to Heaven without it. The fisherman finally promises to return it if she will agree to show him her dance. She accepts his offer, then after her dance, the tennin disappears like a mountain slowly hidden in mist.
In the Hagoromo print, a beautiful young woman is pulling on a hanten (outer robe) of pale teal with deeply embossed feathers, and her green kimono itself is decorated with silver peacock feathers. The allusion here is that the bijin (beautiful woman) is a heavenly creature, perhaps retrieving her feathered robe, and destined to vanish from view as she exits the image.
There is a direct reference to the play of the title in the antique gold-leaf screen in the background, where a red robe decorated with feathers hangs over the branch of a tree. This screen design is based on landscape from an eighteenth century keyblock by Torii Kiyomitsu showing an abalone diver, which was re-used in this new way to add depth to the image and a further layer of meaning to the beautiful woman.”
Paul Binnie, March, 2017