A Very Faded Section from a Nobori Banner: Samurai Imagery
early twentieth century
59" x 13 1/4", 150 cm x 33.5 cm
This is a length of hand painted, hand loomed cotton that was once part of a larger piece, a nobori bata.
A nobori bata is a banner that was hoisted and flown outside a family home on Boys Day, a traditional Japanese holiday celebrating male children. Virtues of courage and determination were promoted at this celebration which is why samurai were often depicted on nobori bata, which is the case here.
Because nobori bata were flown outside homes and were exposed to the elements, they suffered wear as this one has: it is quite faded and its pigment-based paints have eroded, a result of years of exposure to the elements.
It is this "ghost image" which makes this nobori bata so interesting, and one can imagine the lively scene that must have been depicted on the full piece when it was freshly painted.