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すおう 素襖

A suō is a broad-sleeved (ōsode 大袖) noh costume. It is a matched suit made of unlined hempen fabric with dyed designs and used in noh and kyōgen for roles of commoners and samurai. The matched suits combine an upper jacket with pleated trousers.

Noh Kyogen

Roles and Draping

Samurai wore suō during the Edo period, and in noh and kyōgen the costume is used for corresponding roles, like Sano no Tsuneyo in Hachi no Ki 鉢の木. The shite of Matsumushi 松虫, a commoner, wears a simpler version combining the suō top with ōkuchi 大口.


Tailoring and Textile Features

Like hitatare, suō are tailored from plain weave hemp fabric that has been dyed with paste-resist designs. The paste may be applied through a stencil to form repetitive patterns, or through a funnel to create free-hand painterly designs.

Basically an unlined hitatare 直垂, the suō upper garment has open cuffs, double-width sleeves and short front panels that are tucked into the pleated trousers, which come in two styles: the formal long trailing nagabakama and simplified ankle-length hanbakama. The upper garment can also be worn with unmatched trousers, like ōkuchi. The suō differs from the hitatare in having family crests at the center back and sleeve seams and in lacking the reinforcement cloth strips and tassels on the sleeves.

Designs and Colors

Family crests are placed high along the center back seam and sleeve seams. Designs may be small motifs in white stenciled repeats on a blue, brown, green, or black background or they may be large painterly hand-drawn designs incorporating four or five colors. Some suō designs make dynamic use of large color blocks. Below is an example with a jagged "pine-bark" separation of back and tan blocks.


Suō with rain dragons in diamonds on a black and tan divided ground with pine-bark lozenge border.


Monica Bethe