Fukusa, gift cover

Fukusa, gift cover

Fukusa
Gift cover
Japan
1830-1850.
Museum no. 361-1880

This textile cover is called a ‘fukusa’. Traditionally in Japan, gifts were placed in a box on a 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 richness of the decoration was an indication of the donor’s wealth, while the quality of the design was evidence of his or her taste and sensibility. The motif of a cock, hen and three chicks symbolises a family living in harmony. The design has been executed in an unusual and complex technique called tapestry-velvet, a technique used in Europe too, which involves passing the yarn around knife-ended wires that cut the loops of the warp.