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

Mountains, place of worship. Monkey bestows; health, wealth, protection. Duck, conjugal fidelity. Pair of fish; marriage, fertility. Vase, perpetual harmony. Dragon, power. Cock, courage. Pine tree and deer, longevity. Phoenix; female element, goodness, abundance.

Physical description

Blue embroidery on blue cloth. Variety of motifs in a sampler fashion. Upper central motif: mountains, duck, two monkeys, lotus, fish, pine trees. Lower centre: two fish and lotus. At left of centre: vase on pedestal with flowers and a butterfly. At right of centre: vase with flower, leaves, bird. At upper right: dragon with three swastikas on body; man holding banner. Lower right: two pagodas, pine tree; boy riding a cock; birds; scroll; duck. Small motifs on left: birds; man on a swayback horse; pagoda, pine tree; cock with swastika on body under willow tree; lotus; two phoenixes joined at beaks; deer, pine tree. Sides, selvage; ends, raw. Cloth dark blue bordering all three sides.