Chinese embroidery is known for its intricate details and rich symbolism. Due to the use of certain symbols in this piece, it was likely given as a wedding gift or to a married couple.
The central image of this textile is a roundel containing a vase, various flowers and plants, and animals. The vase is entirely embroidered using forbidden knots, with an image of a lotus on it. Vases typically symbolize peace, and a lotus is purity. Behind the vase sits a halberd, or a pole axe, which wishes good luck to someone for examinations, and hanging from it appears to be a canopy, one of the eight buddhist symbols. The roundel is filled with different flowers and plants: peonies, lilies, and orchids. These flowers have meanings associated with prosperity, child-bearing, and beauty. The plum blossoms and plums represent the wish for longevity. The blue birds are magpies, which in pairs, symbolize marital bliss, and the swallows at the bottom are for good luck. The two bats flying through the air are also for good luck.
The ground of this piece is orange-brown and it is framed with a small white and blue ribbon, and surrounding that is an elaborate border with a black ground and floral embroidery. All of the embroidery is done using both silk and metallic thread.
Circa: 19th c
Material: Silk and Metallic Thread
Condition: Very Good, minor wear
Inventory number: TX5003