Textile with a tortoise design

Textile with a tortoise design

Textile with tortoise design
Japan
19th century
Cotton with paste-resist decoration (tsutsugaki)
Museum no. A.939-1910
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Detail of a length of fabric showing a grey tortoise climbing through an orange & white striped opening on a deep blue ground. In Japanese mythology the tortoise carries the world on its back and is the guardian of the northern section of the universe, together with the snake. Its shell is believed to show sacred inscriptions, and it is believed to live to an exceptional age. The tortoise is associated with longevity.