A large triangular Buddhist altar cloth dated '1804' in kanji script on the reverse. The central butterfly crest is appliqué and embroidery. A number of small stains and holes. 60" x 41". In Japanese culture, butterflies carry a great number of meanings. Their most apparent symbolism is that of metamorphosis or transformation; they are specifically representative of those who have died as they are thought to carry the recently departed spirits. Butterflies also symbolize spring, and the Japanese generally view them as symbols of happiness and joy. They are a very popular motif in Japan, and a great number of traditional family crests (mon) utilize the butterfly in their designs.