Gold Tapestry (k’o-ssu) Surcoat
Han Chinese woman’s unofficial, informal surcoat in silk tapestry (k’o-ssu).
K’o-ssu means “cut from silk” in Chinese, and it comes from the appearance of cut threads that are created by the use of color in the pictorial design. Unlike continuous weft brocade, in k’o-ssu each color area is woven from a separate bobbin, making the process both technically demanding and time-consuming.
The coat is decorated with a multi-colored panoramic vista with 100 birds worshipping the Phoenix in a landscape setting. The birds throughout are engaged in various activities, with seasonal flowers, rocks and eight treasure symbols all against a silk gold ground.
Bird imagery in Chinese textiles is considered a powerful symbol of new opportunities even in times of adversity. Birds also symbolize love, abundance, good luck, and longing for being with the divine.
The ground structure is silk and gold thread tapestry. Edges of neckband, cuffs, and hem trimmed with black silk and gold metallic brocade. The lining is of patterned silk with medallions featuring pairs of dragons in pursuit of the pearl of wisdom.
A nearly identical robe sold at Sotheby’s New York sale 8618 Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, March 23 2010, lot 87 for $50,000
Circa: Mid. 19th C
Material: Silk and Metal Thread Weave
Condition: Excellent antique condition, some fraying on inner lining of one sleeve
Dimensions: 41" X 61" Sleeve to Sleeve
Inventory number: WR3926