Kashaya (Buddhist Priest's Robe)
Embroidery; silk and gold thread
China, early 1400s, Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund 1987.57
(Cat. no. 64)
This kashaya is the earliest surviving Chinese Buddhist robe in the West
and a spectacular example of imperial Chinese embroidery. Twenty-five
vertical columns alternate with applied bands of small Buddhas. At the top
and bottom center are the Three Precious Jewels and the Wheel of the Law.
The Four Heavenly Kings occupy the corners, while the Five Transcendent
Buddhas are repeated around the edges. When draped about the body, the
figures that are upside down in the upper left corner would have appeared
Kashaya with 25 columns were reserved for ceremonial occasions and worn by
the highest ranking clergy. In all likelihood, this robe was either
commissioned by a major Tibetan monastery or sent by the Chinese court to
an important Tibetan lama as an imperial gift.