A wonderful silk gift cloth featuring a rare subject for this type of textile: an image of a pair of mandarin ducks. Mandarin ducks are regarded as an auspicious symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity. In the past, it was a common tradition in Japan to present pairs of mandarin ducks as wedding gifts to Japanese newly-weds: in symbolic form, it is likely that this fukusa was created for such a purpose. Background: 'The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks' is an ancient Japanese folktale that contrasts greed and cruelty against kindness and love: a timeless legend about a powerful lord who separates a pair of loving mandarin ducks because he wants to have the male drake's brilliant plumage to show off in his manor. The drake almost dies of grief for his mate who is alone and forsaken on her nest, but two of the lord's servants who respect and love animals and nature bring the creatures back together. Although the servants find true love in one another through their virtuous deed, they put their lives at risk by helping out the beautiful mandarin duck. All ends happily in the end, however, as the grateful bird and his mate manage to successfully save them. The techniques of this gift cloth feature simple and sagara embroidery highlights on yuzen-work. Very good condition, with one broken thread on the front, and a stain on the back. 26" x 28"