Gift Cover (Fukusa) with Tale of Genji Shell-Matching Game

Gift Cover (Fukusa) with Tale of Genji Shell-Matching Game

源氏絵貝合図刺繍袱紗

1868–1912

Silk: embroidered; metallic thread

Overall: 85.1 x 72.4 cm (33 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.1319

Location

Description

Japanese elites once presented gifts in boxes with gift covers (fukusa) draped over them. The decorated covers were typically lined with a monochrome backing, but this one’s borders are exposed. Its design is a Tale of Genji shell-matching game. Two clamshells shown in close-up are painted with scenes from two chapters of the novel. The one on the bottom is an episode from the “Kochō” (Butterflies) chapter, in which Genji’s beloved Murasaki sends her young attendants to dance for the empress. The one on the top may depict Genji writing a poem in the “Suzumushi” (Bell Cricket) chapter.

See also
Collection: 
Textiles
Department: 
Textiles
Type of artwork: 
Embroidery

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