silk temple cloth, Japan, Meiji (circa 1900), cm 112x98. This is an ‘uchishiki’, a squarish cloth of rich silk used to cover the front of altars in Buddhist temples. It is made of ginger red ‘kinran’ (damask) silk with a design pattern of blossoming flowerheads, and a superimposed bold swastika, a sacred symbol in Buddhism and known in Japanese as ‘manji’, the concept of universal harmony and the balance of opposites. In particular, when facing left (as in this case) it also represents love and mercy, so rather appropriate for use within a temple… It is lined with a terracotta cotton fabric, hand-inscribed possibly by the devotee who presented it. Condition is not exactly pristine, with a cut in the bottom part of silk, some smudge and large water-staining, but this is not the point as many of you well know... a bold and lovely witness of a past time, nonetheless.
price:  SOLD