Fukusa (Gift Cover)

1800-1850 (made)
Fukusa (Gift Cover) thumbnail 1
Fukusa (Gift Cover) thumbnail 2
+11
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Japan, Room 45, The Toshiba Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This textile cover is called a ‘fukusa’. Traditionally in Japan, gifts were placed in a box on a tray, over which a fukusa was draped. The choice of a fukusa appropriate to the occasion was an important part of the gift-giving ritual. The richness of the decoration was an indication of the donor’s wealth, and the quality of the design evidence of his or her taste and sensibility. This fukusa is beautifully embroidered with the image of an elephant being washed. In 1798 two elephants were taken to Japan. Their apperance aroused great interest and excitement, and one of them was presented to the shôgun (military leader). The design on this fukusa implies that the gift it covers is likewise a great rarity that has been carefully prepared.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Satin silk (<i>shusu</i>), with embroidery in silk and metallic thread
Brief Description
Fukusa (gift cover), satin silk with embroidery in silk and metallic thread, Japan, 1800-1850
Physical Description
Fukusa (gift cover) of embroidered blue satin silk, depicting a white elephant being washed by numerous figures. Some are on the ground are preparing water while one is scrubbing the haunches of the elephant with a brush on a long pole. Others have climbed up a ladder to scrub the back on the enormous creature. The two elephant handlers - one sitting behind the ears and the other on the ground holding the rope around the elephant's front leg - are conversing.
Dimensions
  • Length: 92.5cm
  • Width: 70cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Mr T. B. Clark-Thornhill
Object history
Registered File number 1973/946.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This textile cover is called a ‘fukusa’. Traditionally in Japan, gifts were placed in a box on a tray, over which a fukusa was draped. The choice of a fukusa appropriate to the occasion was an important part of the gift-giving ritual. The richness of the decoration was an indication of the donor’s wealth, and the quality of the design evidence of his or her taste and sensibility. This fukusa is beautifully embroidered with the image of an elephant being washed. In 1798 two elephants were taken to Japan. Their apperance aroused great interest and excitement, and one of them was presented to the shôgun (military leader). The design on this fukusa implies that the gift it covers is likewise a great rarity that has been carefully prepared.
Bibliographic References
  • Jackson, Anna. Japanese textiles. London: V&A Publications, 2000, Plate 130, p. 33.
  • Takemura, Akihiko. Fukusa : Japanese gift covers. Tokyo: Iwasaki Bijutsu-sha, 1991, Plate 108, pp. 272-274. ISBN 475341325X
Collection
Accession Number
T.94-1927

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record createdFebruary 24, 2003
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