A Mid-19th Century Temple Banner: Dated Ansei 7
dated Ansei 7 or 1859/60
96" x 13 3/4", 244 cm x 35 cm
This is a beautiful, old temple banner which is, understandably, made from hand spun, hand woven cotton and which is dyed in a resist technique, the result being white kanji or Chinese characters on an indigo blue ground. The indigo is natural, of course, as synthetic dyes were not developed or imported to Japan at the time this banner was made.
The banner is related to a temple dedicated to Shomen Kongo, a fierce-looking protective deity that is said to ward off disease. The date of Ansei 7, which is roughly equivalent to the date of 1859 or 1860, is noted on the bottom of the banner.
The piece is in absolutely wonderful condition for its age and there is no apparent sun fading, holes or stains. Each of the twelve white cotton tabs which are hand stitched to the banner are completely intact as they were when it was made.
The banner was hoisted and flown outside the temple in the mid-nineteenth century when Japan was still a feudal country: quite amazing to imagine the sights this beautiful thing has witnessed.
The condition of this banner married with its very good age makes for a remarkable treasure from old Japan.