Japanese textiles dolls ceramics kanzashi by Asian Art by Kyoko

Japanese Buddhist Priest's Kesa, Phoenix and Flowers


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Textiles: Pre 1900: Item # 987771
Asian Art By Kyoko
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Japanese kesa, silk brocades, with the design of flying phoenix birds and hosoge flowers on navy blue silk. Hosoge (housoge) are said to be mixtures of imaginary flowers that resemble lotus, palmette, pomegranate or peony. They can be seen in articles from the Nara period (710–784). With mythical birds and flowers, the image is of pure land and promising heaven. Dimensions: 78" x 45"

Buddhism came to Japan via Korea (mid 6th century) and later China. It gained its popularity during Emperor Shomu’s reign (724-749), who became a devoted Buddhist himself. It spread among the nobles, heavily mixing with politics (government) just as it had during the Tang dynasty in China where the Emperor himself was a priest. It took many more centuries before the teaching spread to the common people. Many rulers of Japan, who were dazzled by the rich silk textiles from China, quested for trading before they could weave their own. The textiles from this early trading period are found in the form of “shifuku”, the exquisite bags that were made to place ceramic tea bowls in and used for a tea ceremony. The fabrics are now called “meibutsu-kire” (famous?- cloth) and each have been named and are treasured in Japan.

This is a beautiful kesa made out of silk brocades with lustrous untwisted silk yarns (floss silk) and thinly cut gilt strips. The gold on this kesa sparkles even in dim light - it would have grown with the movement of the priests assuring the divine existence. There are some rubbings on the silk yarn in the design area and broken gilt papers, particularly the top left side and along the folding lines. We took/cut out 70 percent of the broken gilt strips before photos were taken which left some areas a little bare looking - see photos for details. The silk liner is soiled and worn out (very soft and thin silk) more than shown in the photos.