Japanese antique gift cover, fukusa, with the design of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (Shichi Fuku Jin), tsuzure-ri tapestry weave with wide borders (1 3/4"). The liner is made of chirimen crepe silk, Meiji period (1868-1912), 26 1/4" W x 29 1/2"L
This is a beautiful fukusa even with obvious stains. It shows the quality and professional workmanship everywhere.
This fukusa is woven in tsuzure-ori. With tsuzure-ori, the weaver weaves over the drawing with their finger nails that are cut into the shape of a comb. It is a tedious, time-consuming task which requires years of training. When the design is complicated, even a trained weaver can only weave one square centimeter (3/8”) a day. Many of the tsuzure-ori that we find today are machine woven. This is ‘hon’ (true) tsuzure.
The Seven gods started to show up in Japan during the Muromachi period (pre Edo period). They were modeled after the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove from China. Each of the characters were adopted from China except one figure, Ebisu, who appears with a fish and fishing pole. He was added in Japan. Ebisu represents “abundance” which can be translated into fortune. Other gods also represent good fortune along with power, longevity, happiness, culture and eloquence, luck and happiness. They often show up individually and seeing them together is not very common.
The style of this fukusa with the padded borders (a liner from the back covering the sides of the front with each corner curved in) is called Yatsuzume. Yatsuzume style was popular from the late Edo to early Meiji period (18t/19th century); not many fukusa in this style were made since. It became obsolete in Showa. This fukusa is appropriate to cover the New Year’s feast placed inside of Jyubako (stocking dishes) as well as to cover gifts for joyful occasions.