[Special Exhibition] -Transmittimg Robes, Linking Minds- The World of Buddist Kasaya | October 9 to November 23, 2010
Images from the Exhibit
In Japan, Buddhist garments called kasaya (J., kesa) have been carefully preserved for hundreds of--in some cases for over a thousand--years. This exhibition, Transmitting Robes, Linking Minds, features these historic vestments. Although kasaya come in different forms, they are all made of squares that are sewn together into a single large piece. While abiding by this rule, kasaya have come to take various shapes, reflecting the textiles of each age. This exhibition presents over 120 works including related works such as priest portraits.
Kasaya Beginnings:
Regulation Garments
The kasaya was originally designed in India, the birthplace of Buddhism, to be a uniform to distinguish Buddhist practitioners from those of other religions. This section examines these garments through the monastic rules (J., ritsu) that were established for the Buddhist community. The East Asian kasaya produced with these rules in mind will also be introduced here.
image of Seven Panel Rag Kasaya, Associated with Zhanran (J. Tannen), Transmitted to Saicho   image of Seven Panel Rag Kasaya, Associated with Zhanran (J. Tannen), Transmitted to Saicho
National Treasure
Seven Panel Rag Kasaya, Associated with Zhanran (J. Tannen), Transmitted to Saicho
Enryakuji Temple, Shiga Prefecture (November 2 - 23)
Imperial Kasaya
Many emperors in Japan became Buddhist priests after descending the throne and were known as tonsured emperors. Imperial princes also entered monastic lives. This section highlights the Imperial kasaya of princes and emperors that not only upheld the format of the monastic rules but were also unique vestments as well as through portraiture and personal possessions.
image of Portrait of Emperor Godaigo
Important Cultural Property
Portrait of Emperor Godaigo
Shojokoji Temple, Kanagawa Prefecture (November 9 - 23)
Kasaya Related to Buddhist Sects
Arising in the
Kamakura Period
Influenced by political upheavals, Buddhism in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) transformed from a teaching focused on protecting the nation to one that aimed at the salvation of people from all walks of life. This reform changed not only Buddhist thought but also the kasaya. This section explores what the kasaya of these newly established Buddhist schools were meant to transmit?
image of Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya, Associated with Dogen, Transmitted to Daichi
Important Cultural Property
Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya, Associated with Dogen, Transmitted to Daichi
Kofukuji Temple, Kumamoto Prefecture
image of Certifications for Transmission of Dogen’s Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya
Important Cultural Property
Certifications for Transmission of Dogen’s Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya
Kofukuji Temple, Kumamoto Prefecture
Cultural Exchange
in East Asia Seen through Transmission Kasaya I
During the Kamakura period, many monks crossed the ocean on merchant ships. The Japanese monks who went to study on the Asian continent seeking new Buddhist teachings were fascinated by the teachings of Chinese Chan (J., Zen) Buddhism. The Zen monks of this era introduced the idea of denpo-e, or transmission kasaya, to Japan. These were special vestments that signified the transmission of the teaching from teacher to disciple, thus symbolizing succession by the disciple. This section introduces the world of these kasaya, which are indispensible in recreating the history of East Asian textiles.
image of Nine Panel Kasaya, Associated with Wuan Puning (J. Gottan Funei) or Togan Ean   image of Nine Panel Kasaya, Associated with Wuan Puning (J. Gottan Funei) or Togan Ean
Important Cultural Property
Nine Panel Kasaya, Associated with Wuan Puning (J. Gottan Funei) or Togan Ean
Shodenji Temple, Kyoto
image of Portrait of Wuzhun Shifan (J. Bujun Shiban)
National Treasure
Portrait of Wuzhun Shifan (J. Bujun Shiban)
Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto (October 9 - 31)
Kasaya in Daoism
and Shintoism
Buddhism adapted with the local religions in each place as it developed. Among the existing kasaya in Japan are examples that reflect syncretism between the indigenous Shinto belief and Buddhism as well as that have been identified as having been used by intermediaries between the buddhas and Shinto gods. One wonders what kind of interaction between the gods and buddhas can be found within these robes.
Cultural Exchange
in East Asia Seen through Transmission Kasaya II
With the full development of Zen in Japan, the tendency of placing importance on studying in China began to change. The groundbreaking change came with the priest Muso Soseki (1275-1351), who received the devotion of influential courtiers and warriors, such as Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) and Shogun Ashikaga Takauji (1305-1358), though not having gone to China. This section presents a newly discovered kasaya associated with this eminent priest and examples from the Nanbokucho period (1334-1391), in which Muso was active.
image of Portrait of Muso Soseki
Important Cultural Property
Portrait of Muso Soseki
Rokuoin Temple, Kyoto
image of Nine Panel Kasaya, Associated with Muso Soseki
Nine Panel Kasaya, Associated with Muso Soseki
Tenryuji Temple, Kyoto
Kasaya and Tea Ceremony Textiles, Meibutsugire
Meibutsugire (literally, famous or celebrated fabrics) refer to rare and expensive textiles used in chado, or the Way of Tea (popularly known as “tea ceremony”), for the mounting of hanging scrolls that decorate alcoves or silk pouches for tea containers. Just as the saying goes “tea and Zen are one” (J., chazen ichimi), the culture of Zen was actively incorporated into the practice of tea, thus kasaya fabric and meibutsugire came to be closely connected. Tea practitioners found value in the Buddhist kasaya as a textile, which led to the appearance of well-known fabric designs as Daito kinran (twill with supplementary gold weft patterning of Priest Daito) or Tomita kinran (twill with supplementary gold weft patterning of the Tomita clan).
image of Pouch for Tea Container Named Jizo, with Design of Auspicious Clouds and Treasures, Known as Tomita Kinran
Pouch for Tea Container Named Jizo, with Design of Auspicious Clouds and Treasures, Known as Tomita Kinran
Nomura Art Museum, Kyoto (October 9 - 31)
image of Nine (Eight) Panel Kasaya, Asssociated with Kukoku Myo'o   image of Nine (Eight) Panel Kasaya, Asssociated with Kukoku Myo'o
Nine (Eight) Panel Kasaya, Asssociated with Kukoku Myo'o
Jisaiin Temple, Kyoto
Cultural Exchange
in East Asia Seen through Transmission Kasaya III
Through trade between Japan and the Chinese Ming dynasty, which was begun by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408), large amounts of kinran, or twill with supplementary gold weft patterning, came to be imported to Japan. This section introduces the kasaya of the Muromachi period (1392-1573), focusing on examples made of twill with supplementary gold weft patterning, which is the most popular fabrics for kasaya even today.
image of Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya, Associated with Zekkai Chushin   image of Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya, Associated with Zekkai Chushin
Twenty-Five Panel Kasaya, Associated with Zekkai Chushin
Chotokuin Temple, Kyoto