Kesa

Today’s main Weaving Today post briefly mentions kesa, so it only seems right to explain a bit more about these Buddhist religious garments. Kesa are robes worn by Buddhist monks and nuns. Originally the robes would have been humble garments patched together from bits and pieces of scrap fabrics donated to the monastery. As time went on, and Buddhism spread, more elaborate pieces of cloth or used garments were donated to monasteries. These fabrics would be used to make kesa for special events and ceremonies as opposed to everyday wear.

In fact it was not uncommon during the Edo and Meiji periods for kesa to made from robes that had been used for Noh theater productions. (The kesa mentioned in the Weaving Today article was probably made from Noh robes.) According to Denver Art Museum textile curator Alice Zrebiec, kesa were patched together in a sort of grid meant to represent rice fields and canals. Sometimes if the fabric was very nice it would be folded to give it the appearance of patchwork rather than simply cut and stitched.

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