Pictorial Allusions, Reused Blocks: Feathered Robe
By Paul Binnie
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Edition size: n/a
Sheet size: 47.5 x 33.7 cm
Price: $1050 (excl. taxes)
with karazuri (blind-printing), gold mica, silver and bronze metallic printing, the series title Honga Dori printed in upper-left margin, and print title, Hagoromo in silver in middle-left margin, signed in kanji, Bin-ni, followed by red artist's seal Binnie, numbered and signed in pencil on the bottom margin, 30/100, Paul Binnie, 2017
This is the second design in Binnie's series Honga Dori (Pictorial Allusions, Reused Blocks) the first of which was Kasa (Umbrellas), from September 2014. The subject references a famous Noh play, The Feathered Robe (Hagoromo), from the late 15th/early 16th century, which itself is based on an earlier Chinese legend (and was likewise later adapted to the kabuki theater). The play recounts the story of a fisherman who finds a resplendent hagoromo, the magical feather-mantle of a tennin (celestial maiden), hanging from the bough of a tree. The tennin sees the fisherman take it and asks for its return, as she is not able to enter Heaven without it. He agrees to do so on the condition that she will show him her dance. She accepts, then after obliging his request, disappears slowly like a mountain hidden in mist.
Binnie places the beauty in front of a painted panel such as that of a folding screen (or taking into account the scale of the figure, quite possibly a fusuma panel) which alludes to the play by illustrating the deep burgundy robe decorated with a feather motif in bronze pigment draped over the branch of a pine tree. She wears a velvet-collared pale teal hanten (over-robe) blind-printed (embossed) with a pattern of feathers over a green kimono decorated with silver peacock feathers. The lower half of the screen is decorated with deep blue stylized breaking waves gradating towards the upper half which is embellished with gold mica of variegated hues imitating the gold leaf squares on a traditional painted panel.
By associating the beauty with the hagoromo, Binnie implies that she is too is a heavenly creature, seen tying her beautiful hanten closed, and alas, destined to vanish from our view.