Buddhist Priest's Vestment (Kesa) with Phoenix


Not on view

A spectacular phoenix with cascading tail feathers dominates this large tapestry-like expanse of fabric; below it is a branch of paulownia. As a motif, this fantastic creature reached Japan from China. According to Chinese tradition, the phoenix appears at times of peace and prosperity, singing in a paulownia tree during the just rule of a benevolent emperor. This is a Japanese Buddhist priest’s vestment (kesa), an outer garment usually worn draped over the left shoulder. Traditionally kesa are made of many small pieces sewn together in a configuration of columns. This kesa was woven in one piece; however, the columnar design is indicated with a cord that is sewn to the surface.

Buddhist Priest's Vestment (Kesa) with Phoenix, Silk and metallic thread tapestry, Japan

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