Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Buddhist Priest's Vestment made from a Chinese Robe

Edo period (1615–1868)
18th century
Silk satin brocaded with silk and metallic thread, with added embroidery
Overall: 42 x 78in. (106.7 x 198.1cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1919
Accession Number:
Not on view
This large rectangular patchwork is a Japanese kesa, or Buddhist priest's vestment, that was made from a Chinese court robe with its characteristic pattern of dragons. Dragon robes were rare and valued in Japan in the eighteenth century, and several Japanese kesa made from Chinese dragon robes survive in various collections around the world.
The dragons on this kesa, as well as on the Chinese court robe also displayed here, are five-clawed dragons (long). However, on the kesa, every occurrence of a fifth claw is embroidered over with a cloud pattern, transforming each long into a four-clawed dragon (mang), appropriate for lower ranks. It is not clear when this alteration was made.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan II," March 22, 2003–September 21, 2003.

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