An Intensely Pieced Buddhist Temple Pillow: Silks
dated Taisho 12, approximately 1924
7″ x 12″ diameter, 18 cm x 30.25 cm diameter.
This kaleidoscope of multi-colored, muliti-patterned pieced silks is a stuffed pillow upon which a brass, bowl-shaped bell or a kind of carved, wooden bell was placed; it was made for use in a Buddhist temple.
This type of intricately piece constructed textile can be seen in Buddhist temples, and often they are hand stitched from donated silks from congregants: these donated, luxurious silks can be transformed into altar cloths, priest's kesa, or other ecclesiastical textiles or garments used for ritual purposes.
This pillow is especially beautiful for its size, its composition and for its good condition. As noted above, we can see from the handwriting on the bottom of the pillow that it dates from Taisho 12 or approximately 1924. Almost all of the silks seem to be chemical dyed, however there are some exceptions in that some of the small slivers of silk on the top of the pillow are from the 19th century.
The mesmerizing top of the pillow is completely hand stitched, with each small fragment of silk wrapped around a slip of paper for ease of stitching.
The sides of the pillow show lotuses in a pond, an allusion to the Buddhist meaning of the lotus, the following quote from this website: The lotus flower represents one symbol of fortune in Buddhism. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower’s first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.The second meaning, which is related to the first is purification. It resembles the purifying of the spirit which is born into murkiness. The third meaning refers to faithfulness. Those who are working to rise above the muddy waters will need to be faithful followers.
A wonderfully good looking thing and one that exhibits extremely good hand craft from gifted Japanese stitchers.