|Japanese Fire fighters thick cotton jacket, bearing crest of firefighters group, crafted with cotton and natural dyes, 1860-1890.
Fires were frequent during this period because of crowded living conditions and wooden buildings. Each firefighter in a given brigade was outfitted with a special reversible coat (hikeshi banten), plain but for the name of the brigade on one side and decorated with richly symbolic imagery on the other.
These coats would be worn plain-side out and thoroughly soaked in water before the firefighters entered the scene of the blaze. No doubt the men wore them this way round to protect the dyed images from damage, but they were probably also concerned with protecting themselves, as they went about their dangerous work, through direct contact with the heroes and creatures represented on the insides of these beautiful garments.
Found in many museums today, Japanese firemen's coats are usually displayed with their fabulous interiors facing outwards so visitors can see the master craftsmanship and learn more about the figures represented.
Size: 83(W) x 124(L) cms.
Weight: 2 kgs.