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Kinran 7-Column Kesa

Kesa is a cape worn by Buddhist monks. It is a garment of humble origins.
Buddhist monks survived on public donations of food and created their wearables from old raggedy clothes, donated as well. The materials were cut into small squares and stitched together into a large square, worn draped over the left shoulder and secured under the right arm. Eventually these capes evolved into objects of splendor as wealthy merchants and aristocrats donated sumptuous brocades and new patterns were invented by the placement of the small squares. Each Kesa has between 5-25 columns, the higher the status of the wearer the more columns. The insertion of squares of different pattern at specific places is for ritualistic purposes. The creation of the Kesa itself is a form of meditation and humility.

This kesa, dating to the middle of the 19th century, is made from Kinran, which is silk brocaded with metallic paper. Images of phoenixes, florals and dragons abound and  the kinran insertions are made of two different brocades. It is lined with contemporaneous purple silk and the silk hand loop is intact.

Circa: Mid 19th c.

Origin: Japan

Material: Silk and Gold Paper brocade

Condition: Very Good

Dimensions: 80" x 45"

Inventory number: TX4975



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