Cape (kappa)
Cotton (homespun); some paper backing; silk cord
Stenciled, woven

Capes were not originally part of the Japanese wardrobe, and never played a very large role in Japanese dress, but had some popularity during the Meiji era. The name kappa comes from the Portuguese word for cape. A number of seventeenth century Japanese paintings show contingents of luxuriously dressed Portuguese merchants wearing capes as they walked through the few sections of Japan they were allowed access to during the tightly controlled Tokugawa shogunate.

This cape has two layers: the outer of stripes, the reverse of fine stenciling. In some capes, a layer of wax paper was inserted between the inner and outer, so the cape could repel water. This cape does not appear to have a middle layer.

Above and below, close-ups of the outer and reverse.

The closures are also western-influenced. Note the sturdy Japanese paper under the cord closure.

Below, the two layers were sewn together, and trim placed around the edges.

Early Portuguese merchants in short capes as depicted by a Japanese screen painter.

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