VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Kunchi costume of Yorozuya-machi town
NMHC_kunchi47_1
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

It is not only historical evidence of international exchange between China and Japan in the past but also a precious cultural heritage of present-day Nagasaki, this costume of gorgeous embroidery should undoubtedly be called a masterpiece. Ryuji HIRAOKA and Kenji KUBO, curator, Nagasaki.

History of the Object
This garment, decorated with “Nagasaki embroidery”, was used as a costume in the dedicatory performance to Suwa shinto shrine: “Whale blowing” by the Yorozuya-machi town's people in the autumn festival called “Nagasaki Kunchi”. On its surface, a tri-dimensional embroidery of a dragon and tiger is beautifully embellished by the spun gold and silver thread: a rational embroidery style which was originally introduced from China to the late 17th century Nagasaki and has became typical in the city until today. Consisted of a tight sleeve and apron, this costume was worn by a child who played the captain of whaleboat in the Showa era. The “Whale blowing” of Yorozuya-machi town began in 1778 and taken over by the neighborhood association ever since. Nagasaki embroidery, however, is on the decline and the craftsmanship is now only succeeded by Mr. Shota Kase. Recently, he alone is playing an active role in the renewal of Kunchi costumes and repairing of Kasaboko, a huge parasol-like symbolic float of each “machi (town)” in Nagasaki city.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Clothes with Nagasaki embroidery 
Measurements
43.0 × 111.0㎝ 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Japan; Nagasaki 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
Unknown 
Creation date
Unknown 
Function
 
Acquisition
This garment became the possession of Nagasaki City in 2004 and was part of the collection of Nagasaki City Museum. Since 2005, it has been preserved in Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture. 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Nagasaki City, Japan 
Museum
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture 
Credit line
Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture, Nagasaki, Japan 

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