Books decorated with seasonal motifs and auspicious patterns scattered over tall Nandina shrubs are intricately embroidered on a silk ground embellished by gold leaf to create a profusion of color, texture, and pattern. Varied embroidery techniques give distinct textures to the designs on the books, smooth berries, glossy leaves, rough Nandina bark, and delicate feathers. The books also bear stenciled patterns in gold leaf. Gorgeous robes are essential to the mysterious beauty of Japan's Noh theater. Early Noh costumes were similar to the luxurious apparel of aristocratic patrons, who rewarded favorite actors with costly garments. By the early seventeenth century, Noh costume developed into an independent mode of lavish stage attire. Although there are no set costumes for most roles, age, gender, and status are differentiated by robes of specific fabric types and patterns. The type known as 'nuihaku' (literally embroidery and metallic leaf), is brilliantly represented here. The term denotes a category of Noh costume used mainly as an overrobe for noblewomen. As in this example, designs are usually pictorial or naturalistic. Nuihaku are also worn folded down at the waist as part of a two-piece costume representing jealous spirits or supernatural beings. For certain male roles they are used as underrobes.