Yorke Antique Textiles

A collection of antique and vintage textiles from around the world

Item Details
Late Edo (1820-1868)
A tapestry-weave silk uchishiki featuring karako ( Chinese children ) and Karajishi (Japanese word for imaginary lion) with botan (peonies). The lining of this artifact is of hand-woven "asa (hemp). Very good condition, with some deteriation of the small brownish spots on the lion. 26" x 26" along edges. With regards to the Karajishi (lion): it is a mythical guarding beast that protects people from evil. The story of the lion and peony was well known among eastern Asian Buddhists. The lion had one fatal enemy that could create havoc inside of its body. The fatal enemy was a tiny worm parasite that fed on the lion's liver. Once this tiny worm took up residence in the lion, even the mighty lion could not run from its fate. However, there was one remedy for the lion to survive. When the lion felt sick and realized that the liver worm may have caused it, he went to where the peony plants grow luxuriantly in the wild peony garden. The peonies were a natural herb for the lions liver disease. The liver worm hated the fragrance of the peony flowers. The lion would stay quietly in the wild peony garden for a few weeks, then the parasitic liver worm would naturally come out from the lion's body, and the lion's health would be restored. When the ancient Indian people observed what was happening in nature, they thought that the relation between the lion and the peony garden was similar to the relation between human beings and the temple of the Buddha-dharma. The Japanese term karako generically refers to small Chinese children as they are portrayed in Japanese art. These children, depicted without reference to a specific sex but usually appearing to be boys, wear sets of Chinese traditional clothes and have bare heads except for two small tufts of hair. Karako can represent the wish to have a male successor who will gain high social status, and also is a benevolent symbol which brings luck, happiness and prosperity. There are several colors on this altar cloth that have special Buddhist meanings. Regarding the color red surrounding the lion and peonies: 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. Dark blue is reflective of the precious stone 'lapis lazuli': traditionally this beautiful stone was used to symbolize that which is pure or rare. The small auspicious five-colored clouds represent Buddha.
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