Japanese Antique Kesa Cloth (Buddhist Priest's Vestment) made with prized brocade displaying the crest of the Tokugawa shogunate and framed with a rare purple and gold silk brocade with red accents. The "triple hollyhock" mon belonged to the Tokugawa feudal military government of Edo Japan (1600-1868).
Often described as a mantel or robe, the kesa is worn draped diagonally over the left shoulder and under the right armpit. Meant as a reminder of the Buddha's own simple patched garment, kesa are formed from many fragments of cloth. Within each garment, the fragments are typically organized in a series of columns framed by a border with miters corners. The number of columns, indicates both the specific function of that garment and also the rank of the wearer within the religious hierarchy. This kesa has 7 columns, meaning it once belonged to a high ranking priest. Four small additional squares act to reinforce points of stress from wear but have symbolic value as well. The sumptuous fabrics used to make kesa are from reused garments - Noh theatricial robes, kimonos even Chinese robes, donated to temples by wealthy devotees. In this case, the devotee was a member of the elite Tokugawa shogunate.
Age: Late Edo Period (circa early 1800's)
Dimensions: 51 1/2" high on one side, 43 1/2" high on the other x 82" wide