About this object

History of use

Blue and white embroideries are part of a long 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

Vase of flowers; peace, harmony. Horse; perseverance. Ch'i-lin; perfect good, scholarly pursuits. Willow tree; meekness, feminine traits, spring. Rabbit; good luck. Phoenix; old age, immortality. Fish in a pair; joys of marital union, charm against evil.

Physical description

Long, rectangular, brocade textile of cream fabric and indigo detailing. The design consists of a line, which becomes a wave pattern in centre separating the underwater and land designs. Bilaterally symmetrical except for dragon boat in centre. Below line are fish, crabs, sea plants, boats and willow trees; above line phoenixes and rabbits. Small animal near outer borders faces right on both sides. Medallion-type designs along top. From left and right sides to centre: tree, vase of flowers, horse, bird, pagoda, vase of flowers, ch'i-lin, tree, vase of flowers. Wide border below base line has floral and tassel in repeating pattern.