Skip to product information
1 of 9


Kinran Monk's Cape (Kesa)

Regular price $3,200.00


Product details

Kinran Monk's Cape (Kesa)

Kesa is a cape worn by Buddhist monks, and it is a garment of humble origins. Buddhist monks survived on public donations of food and created their wearables from old raggedy clothes, donated as well. The materials were cut into small squares and stitched together into a large square, worn draped over the left shoulder and secured under the right arm. Eventually these capes evolved into objects of splendor as wealthy merchants and aristocrats donated sumptuous brocades and new patterns were invented by the placement of the small squares. Each Kesa has between 5-25 columns, the higher the status of the wearer the more columns. The insertion of squares of different pattern at specific places is for ritualistic purposes. The creation of the Kesa itself is a form of meditation and humility.

The paper-based brocade (or Kinran) used for this kesa is made up of a repeated floral pattern. The ground is a purple silk, rare for it's age due to the difficulty of creating natural purple dye, with polychromatic silk filling in the flowers. Thirteen columns are pieced together within a 6" border and six squares with a grid of wave-like abstract patterns. 

Circa: Edo Period, 1615-1868. Likely 18th century.

Origin: Japan

Material: Silk, gold paper

Condition: Excellent

Dimensions: 80" x 45"

Inventory number: TX5359

Kinran Monk's Cape (Kesa)