Chinese  embroidered sleeve band – last quarter 1900’s

Chinese  embroidered sleeve band – last quarter 1900’s


When the Manchus conquered China in 1644 (Qing dynasty) their costume was a hybrid mix of their own nomadic traditions and those of the sedentary silk weaving Han people. During the previous Ming dynasty the Han women had embroidered the sleeve ends of their robes and this idea was adopted when the the Manchus came to power. It is not known how this tradition came about but a fairly logical explanation is that when eating or perhaps embroidering or painting , the sleeves would be folded back and pushed up the arm, which is what we would do today. In time the folded back portion of sleeve was then embellished.

There are many themes but one of the most popular was butterflies (longevity) sipping the nectar from peonies (spring). Together these two represent a lover tasting the joys of love. Other subjects might be people in gardens or on terraces surrounded by pavilions, birds and insects, horses, animals, fruits, and a great variety of flowers.

This sleeve band features both couching and the ‘forbidden’ stitch.  Couching is where a thread, in this case gold spun round a silk core, is caught down on the surface of the fabric by another stitch. Peking knots also known as Forbidden stitch were never actually forbidden by law. It probably got this name because it was first worked in the Forbidden City. The fineness of these stitches varies considerably and it is only occasionally that a really minute stitch is seen. In some stitches two colours have been twisted together to great effect.

Within the design you can see the Peony (Spring), The peach – a symbol of longevity and immortality, and the flute symbol of Han Xiangzi.

This panel is framed, mounted and glazed

Product code:  1121

Size:  640mm x 230mm

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