About this object

History of use

Valance with sampler motifs. Possibly made by a younger person, as the colour additions are more daring than the traditional style of the time. Blue on white embroidered textiles were traditionally made until the end of the 19th century by rural and village women of the western provinces, especially in rich agricultural communities of Szechwan, Shensi, and Yunnan. Patterns consisted of varied arrangements of classical and folkloric symbols. Square linen or cotton pieces were woven on wooden looms 30.5 to 63.5 cm wide. Finished articles were often given to, or made by a bride; sometimes used as samplers, or as household linen. Designs vary geographically but are constant within generations of families, except for minor individual variations. Often used to decorate the bed, particularly at the new year when household spirits are honoured.


Collected at a time when the owners preferred machine manufactured goods.

Cultural context

utilitarian; household

Physical description

Large white cover with embroidered roundels. The cover is made from three narrow pieces sewn together. The horizontal edges are hemmed with zigzag stitch, vertical edges are selvedge. Along one selvedge edge are four large roundels. The first has fish, lotus and butterfly motifs. The second has three figures, cloud and lotus motifs. The third has 2 figures, lotus and floral motifs. The last has a phoenix motif.