Sudare are screens or blinds. They are sometimes called misu as well. Theyare used in many Japanese homes to shield the verandah and other openings of the building from sunlight, rain, and insects. Their light structure allows breezes to pass through, a benefit in the hot Japanese summers.
Sudare protect the inhabitants of the building not only from the elements, but also from the eyes of outsiders. During the Heian Era, a court lady would conceal herself behind a screen when speaking with a man outside her immediate family. She could peep through it and see her interlocutor, but because he had to remain at a distance from it, he could not see her. Any unwarranted moves on the man's part were seen as a grave breach of etiquette and a threat against the lady's modesty and purity.
Sudare were also used in imperial audiences. Since looking directly at the tennō ("heavenly ruler") was forbidden, he would sit hidden behind a screen in the throne hall, with only his shoes showing. This practice fell out of use as imperial power declined.
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