Important Cultural PropertyBuddhist Outer Robe

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  • Robe
  • Length: 103.6 Width: 236.4cm
  • Southern Song dynasty, China/13th century
  • Kyoto National Museum
  • I甲308

This priest's outer robe (J., kesa) is made of twenty-five columns of twill-silk sewn together. It is the most formal type of kesa called daie. This garment is associated with the following legend: the Zen priest Ryushu Shutaku (1308-1388) of Nanzen-ji Temple in Kyoto had a dream one night of obtaining the robe of the great Chinese Zen master Wu Zhun (1177-1249). The next day, just as he had foreseen, Shutaku was presented with the robe. The senior priests in the temple named it Omue (Dream Robe) in celebration of Shutaku's auspicious vision. Whether it actually belonged to Wu Zhun or not is uncertain, but the quality of the textile, the lively peony arabesque design, and the use of gold-leaf imprints (J. inkin) suggest the manufacture of this robe may date as far back as the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). Since daie are worn for formal occasions, such as visiting the Emperor, this robe displays a splendid artistry.