Important Cultural PropertyDôbuku with Paulownia and Arrows Fletches

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  • Dôbuku
  • Length: 115.2cm; Width at shoulder: 115.8cm
  • Momoyama period/16th century
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • I甲430

Dôbuku, a predecessor of the modern-day haori, is a soft coat favored as outerwear by daimyo lords during the age of warring states at the end of the medieval period. This outstanding example has a purple section at the shoulder with an undulating "suspended-jar" edge, and a wide green border along its lower hem with a design of white arrow fletches. The middle section shows the lustrous white of the nerinuki (plain weave with unglossed warps and glossed wefts) silk, which contains only scattered green, purple, and light green paulownia motifs in a stylish and elegant composition. What is remarkable about the designs on this coat is that they were created entirely by tie dying, using a technique known as tsujigahana. They bear no metallic foil (surihaku) or ink-painted designs (kaki-e). In order to make the sharp, clear borders between the white and colored sections, the creators used an extremely sophisticated method involving sewing along the borders with tiny stitches to bind off the resist areas before repeated vat dyeing. This extraordinary garment represents a pinnacle of tsujigahana-dyeing technology.
This dôbuku was given by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) to Kita Nobuchika, an envoy of Nanbu Nobunao, in 1590 (Tenshô 18) when Kita delivered some gifts to the battlefront during the Battle of Odawara, when Hideyoshi attacked the Hôjô clan.