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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, Ming dynasty (1368-1644), early 15th century
Title: Kashaya (Buddhist Priest's Robe)
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1425
Creation Date: 1400-1425
Object Type: Textiles
Classification Term: Embroidery
Materials and Techniques: embroidery, silk and gold thread
Dimensions: Overall: 119.4cm x 302.1cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1987.57
Credit Line: Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
Context: Kashaya are rectangular robes worn by ordained Buddhist priests. Typically, they are pieced together to symbolize the vow of poverty taken in the sixth century BCby Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. In this kashaya, the vertical bands of applied buddhas and clouds were sewn onto the rectangular gauze ground. Also applied were the small buddhas between the bands, the four Guardian Kings in the corners, the Wheel of the Law in the bottom center, the Three Precious Jewels in the top center, and the FiveTranscendent Buddhas that are repeated around the outer edges. The lotuses and swastikas in the interstices were embroidered directly onto the gauze ground. Worn draped about the body, kashaya were secured with ties. The buddhas and king in the upper-leftcorner of this example are upside-down when the garment is viewed flat. When draped, however, these figures appear right-side up. The decorative program is based on the branch of Buddhism known as Mahayana. The myriad buddhas refer to the idea that the cosmic consciousness of Buddha can eventually be attained by everyone and, hence, is limitless. The Four Heavenly Kings, believed to live on the slopes of Mount Sumeru, the center of the universe, bestow wealth, success, and victory. They are also the guardians of the four quarters: Vaishravana (north) in the upper-right corner (shown in the detail on the next page), Dhritarashtra (east) in the lower right, Virudhaka (south) in the lower left, and Virupaksa (west). The Three Jewels (centered at the top) symbolize the teacher, the teaching, and the Buddhist community, and provide refuge from the endless suffering of repeated births and deaths. The three revolutions of the Wheel of the Law (centered at the bottom) refer to the teachings given to the early disciples and the two principal philosophical schools of Mahayana Buddhism. Finally, the Five Transcendent Buddhas repeated in the outer border symbolize the purity of the five elements, directions, colors, addictions, and wisdoms. The theme of the thousandbuddhas used as the decorative program of a garment first occurs in the fifth-century carving of Vairochana at Yungang, a Buddhist site in northern Shaanxi Province. The earliest surviving embroidery with this theme dates from the Tang dynasty and was found by Sir Aurel Stein at Dunhuang. Other known kashaya were preserved in Tibet, although they appear to have been made in Central Asia or China. The Cleveland robe, produced in China, may have been commissioned by a powerful Tibetan monastery; or, it mayhave been sent as an imperial gift by the Chinese court to an important Tibetan lama. A.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1987.57
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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