■ Gojou Kesa(5-strip panel), vintage Japanese Nichiren style
■ Hand sewn; the straps braided with the white cords
■ Fabric: Linen
■ Horizontal size: 115× 53 centimeters
Kesa: Buddhist surplice. A general term for an outer garment worn by Buddhist priests and found on Buddhist figures. The kesa originated in India, and its name is derived from the Sanskrit kasaya, meaning dark-coloured. In India, priests' robes were always made from dyed cloth, whilst laymen wore white. Originally, the kesa was made by piecing together rags. However, in China and Japan where temperatures are much lower, undergarments were worn beneath the kesa, and it soon came to be used as a formal ornament. Later, fine fabrics such as kinran (gold brocade) and nishiki (patterned weave fabrics) were used to make the kesa. Several narrow strips of fabric are sewn together to form a rectangular cloth, which is usually draped over the left shoulder and under the right arm hentan uken. The kesa has various types distinguished by the number of strips of fabric used. The gojou gesa has five strips, the shichijou gesa has seven strips, and so on. Many Japanese Buddhist sects developed their own distinctive style of kesa.