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DESCRIPTION: This unusual Fukusa, or formal gift cover, has been hand woven in Shioze Silk, a hard edged silk that is very strong and not commonly found in old Japan. The light blue color of the background silk is also very unusual and comes from the natural dyes of the indigo plant. The three Mandarin Cranes, “Tsuru,” who symbolize good fortune, fly over the stylized wave pattern so typical of Japanese design. They are on their flight to the sun, which, as legend has it, will take them 1000 years. On their journey they pass the famous landmark of “meoto-iwa” or wedded rocks, just off the coast of Ise, the site of the most sacred shrines in Japan. These rocks are associated with Izanagi and Izanami who, in myth, gave birth to the islands of Japan. The auspicious components of this design were significant to the family who commissioned the weaving of this fabulous Fukusa. It is further indicated by the inclusion of pure Gold Threads woven in the design. The reverse side of this dramatic Fukusa includes the Family Crest or "Mon." It is that of the Pine or "Matsu," representing long life.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Japan
TYPE TEXTILE: Ceremonial procedures permeated all facets of Japanese life, including the giving of gifts. Landmarks in life as well as festive occasions or holidays like the New Year -- all called for the giving of gifts. A Fukusa is a square cloth used to cover a gift that has been placed on a wooden or lacquered tray during the gift’s elaborate and formal presentation, all of which followed closely defined rules of etiquette. The practice of covering a gift became widespread during the Edo or Tokugawa period (1615 - 1867). This practice, in all probability, began as a functional one -- to protect the gift from the elements, but rapidly become one more way to display the status of the family who commissioned the artwork.
APPROXIMATE DATE OR PERIOD: Late Meiji Era (1868-1912), prior to the turn of the century
FABRIC CONTENT and CONDITION: Pure hand woven,
rare Shioze Silk, hand embroidered, including pure gold
FINISHED SIZE: 25”w x 29”h
PRESENTATION: Fabulous wall hanging or framed art work. The Fukusa is actually 2 separate sides sewed together at the outer seams. The Couched Pine Crest on the reverse side of the Fukusa is also dramatic, but has some small, barely noticeable fraying.
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