ohenro coat, Japan, Taisho (circa 1920), cm 89x122. Rural Japan always had a strong bias towards religious sects. One of the many, the ‘Shugendo’ was sort of an esoteric sect, hybrid among Buddhism, Shintoism and bit of sorcery too. Its key concept was the belief that some mountains are sacred, and that the worship of such peaks will empower the worshipper. Therefore, from the 14th century onwards, there have been pilgrimages to those special mountains, each housing a temple. The most demanding test to the faithful consists in the pilgrim (ohenro-san) hiking around the 88 temples in the Shikoku Island, a trip that on foot can take some 60 days. The pilgrims usually wore a white cotton coat and a traditional straw hat. At any stop by a temple they would have received a signature via a red-ink stamp placed on a book or on the jacket itself. The more stamps the closer to heaven completeness... This actual coat is of hand-woven and hand-sewn thin cotton with auspicious ‘bonji’ characters and hand-printed images in black of a Buddha and other historical figures of an ascetics from the Nara period. It displays a number of red stamps (some additional are also on the non-photographed front of coat) from temples. Apart from minor staining and some natural foxing the coat is in good condition. An intimate insight into a less-known aspect of Japanese life. Iconic.
price:  SOLD