The Kura - Japanese Art Treasures

Robert Mangold has been working with Japanese antiques since 1995 with an emphasis on ceramics, Paintings, Armour and Buddhist furniture.
Antique Japanese Fireman Coat w/ Dragon & Tiger

Antique Japanese Fireman Coat w/ Dragon & Tiger

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Japanese: Textiles: Pre 1900: Item # 1487190
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23 Murasakino Monzen-cho
Kita-ward Kyoto 603-8216
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A Hikeshi-Banten Fireman Jacket decorated with protective images of waves and birds outside in various dyed colors and sashiko stitching, the inside emblazoned with a dragon and tiger; symbols respectively of wisdom and protection (the dragon is a water god) and ferocity and bravery as the tiger knows no fear. The handmade coats were fashioned from several layers of highly absorbent quilted cotton fabric. They were then resist-dyed using the tsutsugaki method, which involved drawing rice-paste designs on the cloth, dyeing the cloth multiple times and then washing off the paste to reveal the layering of colors. They were worn plain side out and before firefighters entered the scene of a blaze, the coats were thoroughly soaked in water (they could weigh more than 75 pounds) to protect the men from burns and blunt the impact of falling objects as they went about their dangerous work. If firefighters were successful in extinguishing the blaze, they would turn their coats inside out and parade victoriously by cheering onlookers. According to the Denver Art Museum:
Decoration was important to firefighters’ garments, which were far from purely utilitarian uniforms. Firefighters enjoyed respect and high status in urban Japan, especially in Edo, where wood architecture and crowded living conditions led to frequent outbreaks of fire. Commoners wore reversible coats (hikeshi-banten) made of thick, quilted cotton fabric, with a plain indigo-dyed exterior and an elaborately decorated interior.