The idea of a Fukusa gift cover comes from the old Japanese tradition of gift presentation. Fukusa began to be decorative as well as practical in the Edo period (1600 to 1868). The appropriate design was chosen for the occasion; for seasonal, ceremonial and later, time of grief when Japan started to face battles again, with the foreign countries this time. This delicate, indirect way of conveying feelings has been in Japanese culture, poems replacing words for occasions, reminiscent of the Heian period (794-1160).
The design on this fukusa is from the old Japanese folk tale “Urashima Taro”. The story goes like this ... one day, Taro rescues a turtle from a group of cruel children. The turtle returns later to thank him and offer him to tour the undersea world. Welcomed by the princess of a dragon palace, he spends many days wined (with sake, I suppose) and dined, forgetting the time. As he finally realizes the time and is ready to return, he is given a “Tama-te-bako” box by the princess saying “never, never open the box”. When he returns to his village, everything looks strange to him. He cannot find his family or friends. Distressed, he absent-mindedly opens the box. With a burst of smoke coming from the box, he turns into a very old man. The short time that he thought he spent in the undersea palace was actually many hundreds of years! This story has a song written for the children narrating the whole story.
Embroidered satin, stuffed and lined with deep red Chirimen crepe, beatiful condition, circa Meiji (1868-1912). Dimensions: 27" x 27"