A silk tapestry uchishiki for a Buddhist altar: the translation of the kanji characters on the backside date this textile to the year 1832. Very good condition, with a few smudges on the front and several small holes on the backside lining. 25" x 25" along sides. One side of this altar cloth depicts the celestial realm of the dragon, while the other side represents the terrestrial realm of the bird and plum blossom. The dragon in Japan is the protector of Buddhist law, the symbol of imperial power, the guardian of the eastern direction, controller of rain and tempests, bringer of wealth and fortune, and a magical shape shifter. With regards to plum blossoms, Japanese tradition holds that these functions as a protective charm against evil. There are several colors on this altar cloth that have special Buddhist meanings. Regarding the color red surrounding the dragon: red is the color of powerful rituals and deeds; the color of passion, transmuted to discriminating wisdom; and is believed to have protective qualities. The light and dark blue clouds: the significance of the light shade of blue is reflected in the importance of the semi-precious stone turquoise in the daily spiritual and religious life of the devout Buddhist, who holds various beliefs about this stone. In general terms turquoise is a symbol of the blue of the sea and the sky. Infinity in the sky speaks of the limitless heights of ascension. Dark blue is reflective of the precious stone 'lapis lazuli': traditionally this beautiful stone was used to symbolize that which is pure or rare. It is said to have a curative or strengthening effect on those who wear it, and its natural smoothness allows it to be polished to a high degree of reflectivity. Specifically in alternative medicine, because of it being associated with a certain 'coolness', it is used when inflammation is present, or when any internal bleeding or nervous condition exists. For all these reasons, plus the fact that deep blue light has a demonstrable healing effect on those who use it in visualization practices, lapis is the color of the principal Medicine Buddha, making this stone an important one in Buddhist mysticism.