noren 暖簾
KEY WORD : architecture / folk dwellings
1 A hanging cloth suspended from the eaves or in the openings (especially entrances) of a building as protection from either sunlight or wind. From the late Kamakura period noren began to be particularly associated with urban vernacular houses *machiya 町家. In this context, in addition to providing shade and privacy, they became a kind of shop sign (see *kanban 看板), while an open *oodoguchi 大戸口 with a noren hanging in it indicated that a shop was open. The earliest examples appear to have been hanging mats of woven straw mushiro 筵, but flax asa 麻 and particularly cotton, momen 木綿, later became common. The noren as a shop sign came to be decorated with a design usually representing the shop name yagou 屋号, trademark or owner's crest mondokoro 紋所. The design might be colored with a white ground or white against a colored background, the commonest colors being black and dark blue. Tea-dyed cotton was particularly favoured by tobacco shops. The strips of material that made up the noren were usually sewn together at the top, but left unjointed further down, creating a characteristic split in the middle, convenient for those passing through a noren-hung opening. Occasionally, when keeping out sunlight was a particular concern, a noren might be sewn right down to the bottom. There were various kinds of noren: half length hannoren 半暖簾, long naganoren 長暖簾, with slit beginning no more than 24cm from the top kirinoren 切暖簾, and made from knotted cords suspended from a rod of bamboo nawanoren 縄暖簾.

2 A panel of hemp cloth asanuno 麻布 fixed to strips of bamboo used in the construction of plastered walls. The noren is set against the surface of the the coarse base coat of plaster *arakabe 荒壁, and held in place with *shikkui 漆喰. Then the middle coat of plaster *nakanuri 中塗, is applied.

3 Wisteria vines which were used to control the movement of logs felled on mountains. The vines helped slide the logs down the mountain track and to stop them.

4 A type of large net made of a lattice of thick branches bound together with wisteria vine. The net was used to stop lengths of felled lumber when they were slid side by side lengthwise down the hillside where they were felled.

5 A frieze of boarding suspended from the eaves of shingle-roofed *itabuki 板葺, urban houses in Aichi prefecture.


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