Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Outer Robe (Uchikake) with Scenes of Filial Piety

Edo period (1615–1868)
late 18th–early 19th century
Resist-dyed and painted silk crepe, embroidered with silk and metallic thread
Overall: 68 3/4 x 49 in. (174.6 x 124.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Anonymous Gift, 1949
Accession Number:
Not on view
In the second half of the Edo period, warrior-class women often wore robes with East Asian auspicious, literary, or didactic themes integrated into landscape designs. Embedded in the decoration of this robe—a winter landscape—are visual references to the fundamental Confucian tenet of filial piety, extolled in Japan as firmly as it had been in ancient Chinese society. One of the most famous collections of such stories advocating respect for one’s ancestors and parents is The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety, based on a Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) text.

Among the twenty-four paragons represented here is Wang Xiang (Japanese: Ōshō), a third-century official who, to fulfill his ailing stepmother’s craving for fresh fish in midwinter, caught carp by lying on the ice of a lake until it melted. Wang is represented here by his clothing: an official’s cap and fan lie on the riverbank beneath a pine branch from which a court robe hangs. Another legendary figure, Meng Zong (Japanese: Mōsō), is evoked by the hat, straw cape, and hoe seen on the back of the right sleeve. When Meng’s ill mother expressed a desire for bamboo shoots out of season, he went to the snowy forest with his hoe, whereupon bamboo began to sprout to
honor his filial conduct.
Private Collection, New York (until 1949; donated to MMA).
Santa Barbara Museum of Art. "Dressed in Splendor: Japanese Costume from 1700–1926," June 27, 1987–August 9, 1987.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings of the Nanga School," January 27, 1990–May 13, 1990.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Immortals and Sages: Fusuma Paintings from Ryoan-Ji and the Lore of China in Japanese Art," 1993.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human and Not-So-Human Figure in Japanese Art," 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Enlightening Pursuits," February 28, 2001–August 5, 2001.

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.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Mighty Kano School: Orthodoxy and Iconoclasm," December 18, 2004–June 5, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Travel in Japanese Art," December 18, 2008–May 31, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Flowering of Edo Period Painting: Japanese Masterworks from the Feinberg Collection," February 1, 2014–September 7, 2014.

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