List of Curios A18:
Cantonese embroidery, said to be 200 years old, black and gold. $28, bought in Canton. Per Maharaja Kumar's Chinese tutor. On the top are two dragons which, as the centre lettering says, are flying. To the side of these in the corners, a mythological bird, supposed to be the kings of the birds. Below, in the centre a very old supernatural man and woman, supposed to be 200 or 300 years old. To the left and right near the corner a minister of the Emperor of China in the old style of dress. Five boys struggling for a cap, representing the struggle for position; next to these an old man, one of the Chinese signs of the zodiac. To the left is a learned scholar, attended by two boys and other servants. This is auspicious as showing that the young members of the household in which this embroidery is put, will become learned. The stork and the deer are used by the old couple in the centre as riding animals. They are emblematic of old age. The deer's horns grow with age and when old, drop off and are renewed. In the corners are vases of Fu-kui flowers, which are supposed to bring wealth. The embroidery appears to be old. The ground work is black silk and the stitching is done with gold thread.
Curator's note: Bell went on a personal tour of China and Japan in 1907. His diary entry for 28th - 30th December 1907 reads, 'At Canton, weather wet throughout. Went round the City on the afternoon of the 29th + the morning of the 30th. Streets very narrow, houses high + broad, many smells. Most attractive through w. Its teeming busy life + the clever + beautiful productions in the shops...Saw "kingfisher" work, the coloured feather being inserted into brooches +other metal work. The work is so fine that the workers often go blind. Saw the so-called "rice paper pictures". They are really painted (water colour) on pith. Bought a set showing the different kinds of boats in use in China'.
Written by Emma Martin