This is an antique fukusa, Japanese gift cover with cranes. A pair of crane is a symbol of longevity and harmony. The embroideries on this fukusa are particularly beautiful. One small hole in the front (smaller than the one in the back) did not show in the photos.
24 inches x 26 1/2 inches
Sioze silk front and back.
Circa: Early Taisho period (1912-1926)
Occasion: Wedding or related
At the time of gift giving, the fukusa gift cover was used only with limited people like the aristocrats or high ranking lords in the beginning (early Edo period). Samurai used simple unpainted wood trays instead. By going through the glamorous Kosode (short sleeve kimono gown of the Genroku era and the increasing economic power of some merchants, beautiful fukusas were created. The Tokugawa government who issued sumptuary laws one after the other tried to stop the extravagance of wealthy merchants particularly. The laws were ignored sometimes but there were times when some were punished severely to set as examples.
We can see a decrease in the use of hand tie-dye (Kanoko), the elaborate embroideries with gold and silver threads were gradually replaced with dye work in the later Edo Fukusa. The beautiful Yuzen dye was the production out of necessity (to replace them). When you see some dye work on textiles from this period, you will be stunned (brings tears in my case) by it. They are the work accumulated over 1500 years, many integrated after adopting from their neighbors, especially from the Chinese.
The fukusa, once used as a gracious way of carrying a message from the giver without a word, had made quite a change since. When life changes so fast, we may be loosing something important even though we think it is better today.