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

Peony; yang, brightness, masculinity, spring. Peacock; beauty, dignity. Cicada; immortality, resurrection. Pine; friends loyal in adversity. Lotus; purity, perfection. Chrysanthemum; autumn, ease, joviality. Butterfly; conjugal felicity, joy. Bee; industry, thrift. Deer; longevity. Cat; protector of silkworms and from evil spirits.

Physical description

Black embroidery on white valance. Five major motifs of flowered plants or tree branches with a bird in each. Smaller motifs between these of butterflies along the top and animals at bottom.