There is no visible image of God in Japanese Shinto religion. For this reason, people find the spirit of God in their surroundings, especially in nature. In the noh play “Takasago”, an old couple is seen together on the beach of Takasago (today’s Hyogo prefecture) sweeping pine needles under the trees. The old man Jo and old woman Uba are the spirits of the pine trees that were grown in Takasago and Sumiyoshi. The two trees are located far away but they are together with their spirits. What Jo gathers with his rake are gods of fortunes while Uba sweeps evil away.
“Takasago” is a masterpiece written by Zeami during the Muromachi period (1336–1573) and is considered the best “Shugen Noh” (noh for celebration) by many. The conversation that took place between the couple and Tomonari (traveling Shinto priest) is not only beautifully written but it has such a meaning to it. The verses from the “Takasago” are still read today in traditional Japanese weddings.
This quote came from “the-noh.com” (www.the-noh.com), an excellent web site – “Takasago” is translated to English. “This play is one of the best of the masterpieces, persisting in the idea of blessing and celebration, extremely bright, and full of the atmosphere of nobility, dignity, and purity. The audience can enjoy this piece by simply seeing, listening, and feeling it. Those in the audience are able to experience purification through seeing Takasago.”
This is a wonderful fukusa, likely to be used to cover the “yuino” gifts when they were exchanged before a wedding. By choosing Takasago as a theme, the giver probably hoped to bring the sacredness and blessing of God upon a young couple's marriage. Takasago represents a harmony in marriage and a long life of evergreen pine tree.
26 3/4" x 26 7/8" without tassels, late Edo. Condition: There are some stains that show up in bright light (shown in photo #7 - top left, bottom left and mid left – tacked in the folding lines). You will probably not see them indoors. The embroidery on this fukusa uses finer threads and has more detail. The color of gold is exceptionally pretty. The tassels and threads around the edges were later added. It might looks better if they are replaced - many of fukusa from the Edo period either had no tassels on corners or had a simple strand of silk thread instead. It should bring the quality up to the original level.