A Yellow Dyed Hemp or Ramie Buddhist Kesa: 7 Column
mid twentieth century
41" x 68", 104 cm x 173 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. The pieced construction of a kesa may be a way to reference the original intention of this garment.
Often the Japanese kesa is hand stitched of luxurious, brocade silks, much like Catholic priests' vestments.
This kesa is not showy like many can be, it is hand stitched of flat woven hemp or ramie cloth that has been dyed a beautifully soft yet rich yellow color. It is beautiful, and it is even more beautiful when seen hanging against the light.
This vestment has been worn and shows some light patina from its years of use, as well as some small snags and one or two tiny holes. As well, there are a few short areas where some of the stitching has loosened, but these are minor.
A simple and beautiful Japanese Buddhist garment, and one which is steeped in a rich cultural legacy.