silk temple cloth, Japan, Edo (dated 1817), cm 157x32. This is a silk tapestry used in a Buddhist temple. More precisely, it is a ‘mizuhiki’, a rectangular cloth of rich brocade used to cover the front and sides of altars in Buddhist temples. The origin of the mizuhiki can be traced back to the lifetime of Shakyamuni Buddha. During the Buddha's time a custom was established of spreading out fine pieces of cloth for the Buddha to sit on when preaching to his disciples and others assembled to hear him. The cloth would be spread out and the disciples would bow in reverence to the Buddha with their foreheads touching the cloth at his feet. The cloth later came to decorate the altar tables of temples on special occasions of hearing the Buddha's teaching. This actual piece is made of ‘kinran’ (damask) silk, with a cotton backing, and from the hand-written inscriptions on the backing we can learn that it was brought to the temple and dedicated in Bunka 13 ( ad1817). The design pattern is rather typical for such items and shows alternating rows of dragons and clouds in different shades on a lovely green background. The weave is very accurate, and the silk cloth itself feather-light. There are little condition issues: cotton backing is partially missing, whereas the silk shows some local wear and differential fading due to diverse light exposure when positioned on the altar. This doesn’t detract a bit from its beauty, au contraire! a really charming little textile.
price:  SOLD