An exceptional silk fukusa featuring Emperor Kammu and his family in Court. The detail and finesse of the yuzen-work and embroidery highlights is of the highest caliber. This textile was obviously created by a top artist of the time, and likely commissioned by a very wealthy family. Very good condition: missing corner tassels. 26" x 27".
Emperor Kammu 50th emperor of Japan, established the Japanese capital at Kyoto late in the 8th century, thus initiating the renowned Heian period, the 'golden Age of Japan'.
The refined imagery on this fukusa perhaps represent an occasion in the year 796, when the Emperor held an audience for the first time at the Daigoku-den Palace at which family and dignitaries celebrated the New Year. This marked the beginning of Kyoto. During his 25 year reign, Emperor Kammu amended the laws and ordinances, gave relief to the destitute, encouraged learning, innovated the domestic administration, and opened the doors to foreign trade, thereby contributing to the development of the country. For more than 1,000 years, until the Meiji Restoration, Kyoto prospered as the capital of Japan. During Kammu's reign and continuing throughout the remainder of the Heian period, members of the aristocracy behaved according to subtle rules of aesthetic refinement. For the aristocrat seeking a good reputation negotiating these rules was the primary challenge. In Heian court society, beauty constituted good taste, and the arts were all-important; this inspired philosophers, writers and artist for over a millennia, obviously including the artist who laboriously and gloriously created this Edo/Meiji fukusa masterpiece. The scene on this fukusa is also intended to be a longevity celebration to honor the recipient of the gift cloth: an old emperor in the presence of his family and friends, in the auspicious presence of the two most iconic symbols of long-life: the 'minagame' tortoise and crane.