This is a Japanese fukusa, a gift cover with the design of the “Eight Views of Omi”. In the beginning of the 16th century, eight scenic spots in Omi (Shiga, Japan) were selected by closely following the Chinese “The Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers”. The original version of the "Eight Views" is said to be painted by Song Di in the 11th century – the paintings no longer exist today.* The masterpiece that depicted beautiful landscapes around Lake Dongting in Hunan Province, China inspired many generations of poets and painters in China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, etc. There were variations added to “The eight views” in Japan over the years and this encouraged mobility from sightseeing travelers. In turn, this stimulated the economy not only in these places but where the travelers passed through.
The "Eight Views of Omi" shown on this fukusa are: "Evening Snow at Mt. Hira", "Descending Geese at Katada", "Night Rain at Karasaki", "Evening Bell at Miidera (Temple Mii)", "Sunset Glow at Setta River", "Clearing Mist at Awazu", "Returning Sails at Yabase" and "Autumn Moon at Ishiyama-dera(temple)" where Murasaki Shikibu was said to have written the world's first novel, "The Tale of Genji". This fukusa has Hikone castle which was not originally included in the Eight Views of Omi since it did not exist at the time the poems were first written in the 1500s. Nevertheless the Hikone Castle, which was built by Lord Ii in 1611, has been a beautiful addition to the northern side of Lake Biwa.
Marriage is often indicated as a couple’s voyage to the unknown. With sailboats, a long bridge and geese in the sky, this fukusa is likely to have been used to cover wedding gifts. It’s also appropriate for the New Year's ceremony. Circa 19th century. Dimensions: 26" wide x 27" long.
The last photo shown here is a ceramic stand (used for the tea ceremony), owned by the Hikone Museum. The order (probably by the merchants in the Kyoto area) was sent to Keitokuchin, China with a copy of the painting by Kano Eigaku (1790-1867).
*NOTE: The area around Lake Dongting in China, where the Xiao and Xiang Rivers emerge together and flow into the lake was known for their exquisite landscape. The paintings that first painted by Song Di in the 11th century were titled as: "Wild Geese Descending to Sandbar", "Returning Sails off a Distant Coast", "Mountain Market in Clearing Mist", "River and Sky in Evening Snow”, “Autumn Moon over Dongting Lake”, “Night Rain on the Xiao and Xiang", "Evening Bell from Mist-Shrouded Temple" and "Fishing Village in Evening Glow".