Antique Japanese fukusa (gift cover), Yuzen-zome (paste regist dye) on silk kabe-ori (coarse crepe silk), early 1900s.
For a man to be a well balanced nobleman, there were requirements to be filled. 'Kin Ki Sho Ga', the four accomplishments of gentlemen, were chosen at an early time in China, practicing Kin (koto, music instrument), ki (go, Chinese chess), sho (calligraphy) and ga (painting). Here on this fukusa, with some variation (tea - sencha? was added), are the Six Immortals of the Waka Poem, Rokkasen, practicing 'Kin Ki Sho Ga'. The six waka poets from early Heian period were selected by Kino, Tsurayuki in “Kokin (past and today) Waka-shu (collection of waka poem)” in 905.
Karuta card game (with 100 waka poems) has been a popular New Year’s game in Japan. This fukusa was probably made to cover (kake fukusa) a container filled with a New Years feast, or it could be a gift cover for related occasions. The location of the mon (family crest) on the reverse side indicates that this fukusa was folded so the crest would be shown on top and the design inside. Large (and pretty thick), impressive looking fukusa, 28 1/4" width x 30 1/4" long.