Important Cultural PropertyShokko brocade and twill-weave ban (banner)

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  • 2 piece
  • Silk
  • (1)Total L 119.0 W14.0 (2)Total L 109.5 W15.0
  • Asuka period/7th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-26

Ban (or hata: banner) is a kind of flag used as one of shougongu (implements for Buddhist altars), often at ceremonies for longer life or memorial services for the dead. The shape of the ban resembles the human body: the bantou (lit. ban-head) part corresponds to the human head, the banshin (lit. ban-body) to the body, and bansoku (lit. ban-leg) to the legs. The characteristics of Horyuji's ban lie in the following elements: the triangular shape of the head section made with obihimo (thin fabric belt worn over the obi); the rectangular-shaped inner part of the body (called tsubo) with the shorter side at the top, framed with one or two lines of cloth; and the leg section made with long pieces of cloth hanging from the lower end of the body section, with the attachment points of the pieces pleated regularly. Many of the bans framed with one line of cloth have belt-shaped "hands" attached to the body –section at the points where the edge of the inner rectangular part (tsubo-zakai) and the frame conjoin. The bans framed with two lines of cloth usually have round gilt bronze ornaments as decoration.
 The bans of Horyuji, in Nara, are named after the kinds of fabrics used as the tsubo of the inner part of banshin. Shokkou Kin Aya Ban is so called because it uses Shokkou-kin (Shokko brocade, originally developed in the Shoku (Ch: Shu) area in China) as the top rectangular part of the body section (tsubo), and aya (twill weave fabrics) for the ones come below that. These two bans share almost the same fabric types and structure. Also, there is a larger version of these bans, Shokkou Kin Dai Ban (large flag of Shokkou brocade), owned by Horyuji. These three bans are thought to have been one single set. That is, that large ban was the kanjou-ban (ban used for kanjou, Buddhist consecration ceremony) put at the center of the canopy, while the Shokkou Kin Aya Bans were the small sub-flags put at the corners of the canopy.