Japanese Meiji Period Embroidered Blue Silk Framed Fukusa Tapestry - the Takasago Legend, Late 19th. Century
The scene portrays Joo & Uba in a scene from the Noh play Takasago. This piece may have been a fukasa. Traditionally in Japan, gifts were placed in a box on a wooden or lacquer 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 practice became widespread during the Edo or Tokugawa period (1615–1867). This particular piece would have likely been part of a wedding gift to a very important person.
Presented in a later and very elegant gold-leaf tray and protected under glass.
No markings other than the framers label on the verso.
Condition is good for age. Softly faded with good color remaining. Some minor discoloration and wear to embroidery. Typical crease seen in center.
This rare and collectable piece would could be a most intersting wedding gift!
Image size is 23" x 23".
Frame is 28" x 28" x 1 1/4".
Listed by East2West Furniture.
The woman in the legend carries a broom to sweep away troubles and the man carries a rake to rake in wealth. Note that the woman has dropped her broom on the ground (foreground of image) indicating that all their troubles are gone and they can now enjoy the rest of their lives together in harmony.
The Takasago Legend is recounted in the Daruma Museum web article, “Meoto Fufu (couple) and Enmusubi“:
“This legend is one of the oldest in Japanese mythology. An old couple – his name is Joo (尉) and hers is Uba (媼) known together as Jotomba – are said to appear from the mist at Lake Takasago. The old man and his wife are usually portrayed talking happily together with a pine tree in the background. Signifying, as they do, a couple living in perfect harmony until they grow old together, they have long been a symbol of the happiness of family life. The story is portrayed in a famous Noh play “Takasago no Uta”
At Takasago Shrine there is a very old pine tree, the trunk of which is bifurcated (相生の松); in it dwells the spirit of the Maiden of Takasago who was seen once by the son of Izanagi who fell in love and wedded her. Both lived to a very great age, dying at the same hour on the same day, and since then their spirits abide in the tree, but on moonlight nights they return to human shape to revisit the scene of their earthly felicity and pursue their work of gathering pine needles.
His pine tree is also called “The Pine of Sumi-no-e” (住吉の松) and hers is the Takasago pine (高砂の松). The old woman is using a broom to sweep away trouble and he carries a rake to rake in good fortune. In Japanese this is also a play of words with “One Hundred Years” (haku > sweeping the floor) and “until 99 years” (kujuku made > kumade, meaning a rake).
In Japan, at wedding ceremonies, the Takasago song is recited and Takasago figures are put on a special “Island Shelf” called called Shimadai (島台) together with auspicious Pine-Bamboo-Plum and Crane with Turtle decorations placed in the wedding room and presented to the bridal couple. Depictions of the Takasago figures can be made from lacquer, ceramics, wood carvings and textiles and are to invoke a long and fruitful married life for the newlyweds. These figurines are also given as presents for a wedding aniversary of 25 or 50 or more years. For the diamond wedding aniversary of 60 years, some communities also give Takasago Dolls to the happy couple….