Buddhist priest's robe (kesa)

Meiji era
late 19th to early 20th century

Object Place: Japan


117.9 x 199.5 cm (46 7/16 x 78 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Karaori, silk, gilt paper; lampas with 2/1 twill foundation and 1/2 twill supplementary weave; pieced and appliquéd

Not On View


Asia, Textiles and Fashion Arts



Seven-columned kesa with decoration of Shakkyo patterns. Columns, dividing bands, border: red silk ground patterned in the long floats of the supplementary wefts. Horizontal bands of clouds decorate the upper portion, followed in descending order by Chinese lions and peonies, and waterfalls and peonies. Three fragments of cloth, each measuring 66.9 cm, have been joined horizontally. Together they include the motifs used in the No play entitled “Shakkyo,” and this was clearly the intention of the maker of the garment. A white twisted cord sewn onto the outer fabric delineates the columns, dividing bands, and borders. Shiten, niten: white ground patterned with lotus roundels in long floats of supplementary wefts. Lining: white six-harness warp-faced twill weave with designs of butterfly roundels and undulating vertical bands (tatewaku) in twill weave.


By 1911, purchased by William Sturgis Bigelow (b. 1850 - d. 1926), Boston [see note 1]; 1911, gift of Bigelow to the MFA. (Accession Date: August 3, 1911)

[1] Much of Bigelow's collection of Asian art was formed during his residence in Japan between 1882 and 1889, although he also made acquisitions in Europe and the United States. Bigelow deposited many of these objects at the MFA in 1890 before donating them to the Museum's collection at later dates.

Credit Line

William Sturgis Bigelow Collection