Kyoto Temple Altar Cloth Made From Kimono Of Hideyoshi's Wife

Kyoto temple altar cloth made from kimono of Hideyoshi's wife

KYOTO--An elegant cloth used to decorate a Buddhist altar at Kodaiji temple here turns out to have been refashioned from a kimono belonging to the wife of warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

A description on the back of the "uchishiki" cloth stated that Hideyoshi's wife, Nene (1549-1624), donated it to Kodaiji in July 1607. Nene commissioned the temple the previous year.

Temple officials, working with researchers at the Kyoto National Museum, found that "Tatewaku ni Kirimonyo Uchishiki" (Uchishiki of wave and paulownia patterns) had been remade from a "kosode"-type kimono that Nene is believed to have worn.

"Nene donated her clothing while she was still living, likely because she wanted her garment to decorate the world of Buddha forever," said Aki Yamakawa, chair of the museum’s exhibitions and public relations department and decorative and applied arts department.

Nene was known as Kodai-in after her husband died in 1598.

The cloth, owned by Kodaiji and kept at the museum, measures 176 centimeters by 174 cm.

Artisans at Sengiren, a group that repairs textile cultural properties, disassembled the cloth to mend its material and unstitched seamed parts.

They discovered that it had been made from nine components that originally made up a kosode, such as its right and left sleeves and neckband.

The original vivid colors of the more than 400-year-old garment are still partially preserved inside seamed parts of the cloth.

The mending project took place in fiscal 2018, partly funded by The Asahi Shimbun Foundation and the Kyoto prefectural government.