Resist-dyed and embroidered silk crepe
Anonymous Gift, 1949 (49.32.109)
In the late Edo period in Japan, warrior-class women often wore robes with classical or literary themes, Japanese or Chinese. Embedded in this robe's decoration of a winter landscape are visual references to the ancient Chinese Confucian legends of Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety.
Among the legends is the story of Wang Xiang (J.: Osho), a third-century official who, to fulfill his stepmother's craving for fresh fish in midwinter, caught some fish by lying on the ice until it melted. Wang Xiang is represented here by his clothing: an official's cap and fan lie on the riverbank beneath the branch of pine from which a court robe hangs.
Another legendary figure, Meng Zong (J.: Moso), is evoked by the hat, straw cape, and hoe amid bamboo seen on the back of the right sleeve. When Meng Zong's mother expressed a desire for bamboo shoots out of season, he went to the snowy forest with his hoe, whereupon the bamboo began to sprout to honor his filial conduct.