Japanese antique rectangular kesa or priest/monk’s outer vestment cloth. The silk brocade of this kesa is a pale orange color and finely woven with colorful designs of dragons in clouds. The silk is Imperial Chinese, as shown by the five clawed dragons. Lined with dark blue silk.
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 the same 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 wide panels divided by 5 narrower ones. Six rectangular patches of taupe and maroon colored silk with a leaves and swirling mist design are framed within green rectangles of silk. These reinforce points of stress from wear but have symbolic value as well. The sumptuous fabrics used to make kesa are often from reused garments – Noh theatricial robes, kimonos even Chinese robes, donated to temples by wealthy devotees.
Age: Meiji Period (1868-1912)
Dimensions: 45 3/4″ high x 83 1/2″ wide