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Wrapper (fukusa)

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Japan Anonymous, Japanese
Wrapper (fukusa), 1850-1900
Silk
27 3/4 in. x 32 3/4 in. (70.49 cm x 83.19 cm)


Object Type: Textile
Technique: Woven
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Accession Number: T740


Commentary
Fukusa are a type of lined fabric used for covering gift boxes or trays. After being received and appreciated by the recipient, the wrappers are traditionally supposed to be returned to the giver, along with the tray or box. This practice was initially only widespread amongst the aristocrats of Japan, but over the course of the Edo period and certainly by the late 19th century, merchants gained more economic power and also adopted this practice, as a means of reflecting their wealth and status. The gold thread used in this piece hints at the prosperity of the owner, while the detailed expressions of the kabuki actors (perhaps depicting three of the seven gods of good luck), and the movement captured in the flying crane, point to the skill and attention to detail applied by the artist. The fine materials and skilled artistry of this fukusa are in harmony with the commonly demonstrated Japanese propensity for adorning everyday use objects and crafts, in such a way that they could be considered art in themselves. Further, the presence of traditional auspicious symbols like the crane and water turtle highlights a continuation of the engagement with traditional Japanese mythology and spiritual teachings on part of the Meiji artists and society.

Ana Farooq (student, 2016)

Medium
Painted grey silk crepe.

Object Description
Rectangular wrapper with painted decoration of an actor and two attendants in colors, on a grey field. Edged and lined with red silk crepe and finished with tassels.

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