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

Phoenix; goodness, prosperity, peace. Dragon; power, achievement. Carp and books; scholarly achievement. Butterfly; joy, brightness, true love. Pondweed; spirit of the waters. Peony; feminine beauty, prosperity. Lion; power, energy. Cock; courage.

Physical description

Dark blue embroidered landscape design on plain white cotton. Centre: rock formation with cock, lotus, peony, sprigs, crab below. Proper right of centre: camel (?), phoenix, ribboned books. Proper left of centre: carp, crayfish, cloud, dragon, human figure, trees, rocks. Designs on both ends identical; rock motif with pondweed, tree with peaches, upright broadleaf plant, butterfly. Double border on three sides; inner border geometric, lion alternating with coin design; outer rinceau, fish alternating with crab. Hemmed on ends and top edge, lower edge selvedge.