A Re-purposed 18th Century Embroidered Kosode Fragment: Fukusa

$245.00 USD

mid to late eighteenth century
11 1/2" x 11 1/2", 29 cm x 29 cm

This beautifully made, highly decorated silk cloth is a fukusa, a ceremonial textile used to cover a gift in order to enhance or acknowledge the gift's formal presentation from donor to recipient.

The cloth was taken from a kosode which is a classic type of luxury kimono that was worn by women in the top stratum of society during the Edo period (1615-1868).

This fragment is made of rinzu or a figured silk satin. It shows a branch rich in cherry blossoms that has been painted, stenciled, embroidered and couched. The base cloth, as can be seen, shows evidence of faint staining over all.

However what we see here is stupendously good hand work: wonderfully tight and precise embroidered silk floss, golden threads that are couched and form a trio of leaves and stenciled faux shibori. 

Because kosode were such a luxury it was not unusual that they were donated to temples or shrines in order for them to be transformed into liturgical vestments of altar cloths, for example.

This practice of ritual transformation is also reflected in this fukusa which as stated above was more than likely used in a ceremonial presentation of a gift. The cloth cover to the special gift had to be something remarkable-- and this small fukusa certainly is.

Traditional basting stitches run around the perimeter of the cloth and the fukusa is backed in washi or handmade, mulberry fiber paper.

This small, very old object is a treasure.


A Re-purposed 18th Century Embroidered Kosode Fragment: Fukusa