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

utilitarian;household

Iconographic meaning

Female with fan and wisk, Taoist immortal Ho Hsien Ku, assists in household management. Butterflies; joy, conjugal felicity. Lotus, creative power. Prunus, winter. Peony; spring, feminine beauty.

Physical description

Plain white valance with blue embroidery; five plate-like medallions, each with bird, flower, vine design in centre; borders of butterfly, bird, plant and stylized lotus, prunus, peony. Scalloped edges on centre and end plates. Centre flanked by female figure in short coat and pants; fan in one hand wisk in the other; lotus flower and sprig across figure. Two small motifs next to end plates; flowers and sprig, lotus and butterfly. Looks like border has been removed. Selvage, sides; ends, raw.