About this object

Part of a large gold and silk floss embroidery on black satin. This piece appears to be just the top quarter of a large square hanging. Present are the top sections of two outer borders. The very outer border is decorated with two large serpentine dragons with four claws, in between these is a square Chinese seal. At the outer corners are a peacock (to the right) and a phoenix (two the left) both hold scrolls in their beaks. On either side of the outer border are large vases filled with flowers or tree blossom. The inner border shows a summer house to the centre with a wise man seated to the right and a woman with a ruyi (ceremonial sceptre) to the left, attendants stand behind. In the background is a raised dais with a table which holds scholar items and a pair of vases. Above this a plaque with an inscription. On either side of the summer house there is a procession of men, women and children bringing gifts and offerings. The panel is worked in very fine silk floss, gold, bronze and copper couched work. The embroidery is of an extremely good quality.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Asia: Eastern Asia: China: Guangdong Province: Guangzhou
  • Date made
    18th Century
  • Materials
    Textile Silk; Yarn Silk; Gold; Textile Cotton; Satin
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    From the Collection of Sir Charles Bell
  • Collector
    Charles Alfred Bell
  • Place collected
    Asia: Eastern Asia: China: Guangdong Province: Guangzhou
  • Date collected
    1907-12-28 - 1907-12-30
  • Measurements
    970 mm x 4060 mm; x 38 3/16 in x 159 13/16 in
  • Note
    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
  • Related people
    Charles Alfred Bell ( Collector)

Explore related


  • List of Curios

    Bell, Charles Alfred

    Author: Bell, Charles Alfred
    Description: A typed object catalogue from Bell's handwritten notes on a wide variety of objects from his personal collection. This information often contains, the date he obtained an object, its provenance (including where and who he acquired from) and the person responsible for giving him the information. The process of writing the inventory began in December 1912 and continued until the late 1930s.

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