A Vintage Silk Buddhist Kesa: Priest's Garment

$225.00 USD

mid twentieth century
46" x 78 1/2", 117 cm x 199.5 cm

The kesa is the classic garment of the Japanese Buddhist clergy.

The origin of the term kesa is from the Sanskrit word, kashaya, meaning colorless or of neutral coloration, signifying asceticism on the part of the wearer.

The Japanese kesa is an iteration of this 'colorless' mendicant garb which was originally meant to be a garment of rags. Over time the Indian kashaya was transformed into a luxuriously crafted, silk brocade kesa, whose piece construction is a reference to its ragged origins.

This is a brocade silk kesa which has been entirely hand stitched and has been worn. This is evidenced from the worn-away silk in a few areas (shown on the detail photos that accompany this post) as well as faint discoloration to the body of the piece, virtually unnoticeable.

The light colored brocade silk shows a repeat pattern of woven folding fans and hollyhock leaves. There are six silk emblems showing a gold-thread phoenix against a bright orange silk ground.

The back of the kesa is lined in a very pale pink colores silk; one of the hand-applied straps has been damaged.

A wonderful opportunity to acquire a Buddhist priest's kesa, one that has been witness to many ecclesiastical rituals over time.