Past Exhibitions

Luxurious Imported Textiles: Buddhist Robes and Meibutsugire
November 19, 2014 - December 23, 2014

Because Japan is surrounded by ocean, its people have always held particular reverence for imported objects that traveled oversea before reaching its shores. These exotic imports have received special treatment over the ages; as a result, many imported heirloom textiles and costumes—the likes of which exist only as archaeological relics in their countries of origin—have survived in Japan. Buddhist clerical robes called kasaya (J: kesa) that were brought by priests back from China as well as textiles that came into Japan as a result of Japanese-Ming trade were eagerly incorporated into the Way of Tea by Japanese tea connoisseurs. These silks, which were used for the pouches of famous tea containers or the mountings of masterpiece paintings, became known as meibutsugire, "celebrated textiles," and were often identified with proper names. This exhibition focuses on international exchange as seen through textiles and costumes, as well as the ways in which such foreign textiles were received in Japan.

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