A Small Happi Showing Genji-guruma: Repurposed Cloth
early to mid twentieth century
26 1/2" x 41", 67.5 cm x 104 cm
This small, cotton festival jacket is called a happi and it would have been one of a great many identical pieces that would have been worn by participants at a local festival. This particular one seems to be tailored from a larger piece, stitched in such a way to make it shorter and smaller.
It shows a really attractive design: the top portion is indigo dyed and the back bears a realistically resist-dyed kanji or Chinese character. The bottom shows a thick, red and white twisted rope set on an angle under which we can see a portion of an ox cart wheel, an ancient symbol often referred to as Genji-guruma, a reference to the famous Heian period novel, "The Tale of Genji."
With some ingrained soiling, fading and light staining--consistent with its age and function--this is a really charming, well-designed happi with good age.
A beautiful thing.