Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Buddhist Priest's Robe (Kesa) with Pattern of Swallows among Willow Branches

Edo period (1615–1868)
18th century
Brocaded twill with supplementary weft patterning; silk and metallic thread
Overall: 48 x 78 in. (121.9 x 198.1cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1919
Accession Number:
Not on view
The textile used for the body of this seven-sectioned kesa features a lively design of swallows among willow branches on a reverse-swastika fret background (the reverse-swastika is a symbol of infinity in Buddhist thought). The kesa’s corner and central patches are made from a contrasting fabric patterned with pine boughs on a gold ground. The long floating pattern wefts seen on the surface of both examples are characteristic of karaori, which also lends its name to Noh costumes made of this type of textile.

The border of a kesa usually is continuous; piecing in the border here is an indication that the textile used for this kesa was not woven specifically to be sewn into a vestment and may once have been a Noh robe or other garment. Treasured textiles and items of clothing often were given to temples for use as vestments and altar cloths.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art in Early Japan," 1999–2000.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Birds in the Art of Japan," February 2, 2013–July 28, 2013.

Related Objects

Seven-Panel Buddhist Monk’s Vestment (Shichijō kesa) with Peony Arabesque

Date: 18th century Medium: Twill-weave silk with gold supplementary weft patterning (kinran) Accession: 19.93.23 On view in:Gallery 224

Seven-Panel Buddhist Monk’s Vestment (Shichijō kesa) with Double-Vined Peony Arabesque

Date: 17th century Medium: Twill-weave gold lampas silk (kinran) Accession: 19.93.17 On view in:Gallery 224

Robe (Kosode) with Cherry Blossoms and Cypress Fence

Date: second half of the 17th century Medium: Silk and metallic thread embroidery with resist dyeing on satin damask Accession: 1980.222 On view in:Not on view

Kimono with Flowing Water Design

Artist: Moriguchi Kunihiko (Japanese, born 1941) Date: 1992 Medium: Paste-resist dyed (yūzen) silk Accession: 2014.521 On view in:Gallery 231

Robe (Kosode) with Shells and Sea Grasses

Date: early 17th century Medium: Embroidery and gold leaf on plain-weave silk patterned with warp floats Accession: 1992.253 On view in:Not on view