Bed Valance

About this object

History of use

Blue and white embroideries are part of an ancient domestic tradition. Designs vary geographically but are constant within generations of families except for minor individual variations. Often used to decorate the bed which traditionally played a focal part in household ritual particularly at the new year when all household spirits were honored. They are family made, by women, and family owned. These embroideries were of no local commercial value.

Cultural context


Iconographic meaning

Phoenix is the symbol of the empress, females, beauty, goodness, prosperity. Dragon is the symbol of the emperor, males, and eternity. Butterfly stands for joy and happiness. The pomegranate symbolizes fertility and properity. The lion symbolizes power and energy. The tortoise stands for longevity, strength, and endurance.

Physical description

Plain white valance with blue embroidery, and hemmed on sides with selvedges top and bottom. Three rectangular panels separated by 2 designs; one of bridge, deer, tree and butterflies; the other has a pagoda, tree and bird. The centre panel is divided horizontally by a fence with a lion on either side. Panel on left shows urn with pomegranates, flanked by a dragon, deer and floral and fruit design with birds and butterflies. Panel on right depicts waves with fish, sea dragon, tortoise with birds, butterflies and houses overhead. Border on bottom edge is scalloped design with marine and floral motifs.