China, Tapestry: Southern Song dynasty (1127-1270), late 12 century; Border: Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 15th century / Canopy: Dragon Among Flowers / late 12th centuryChina, Tapestry: Southern Song dynasty (1127-1270), late 12 century; Border: Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 15th century
Canopy: Dragon Among Flowers
late 12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, Tapestry: Southern Song dynasty (1127-1270), late 12 century; Border: Ming dynasty (1368-1644), 15th century
Title: Canopy: Dragon Among Flowers
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1166
Creation End Date: 1199
Creation Date: late 12th century
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1499
Creation Date: 1400s
Object Type: Textiles
Classification Term: Tapestries
Materials and Techniques: tapestry: silk and gold. Border: lampas; silk and gold
Dimensions: Overall: 87cm x 84.5cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1995.1
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Context: This canopy consists of a silk and gold tapestry surrounded by a border of deep blue silk with a gold floral design. The tapestry preserves part of a large dragon surrounded by flowers. Although the serpentine treatment of the dragon is Chinese, its upturned snout and the floral setting derive from the earlier tapestry tradition of Central Asia. Characteristic of imperial tapestries of the Southern Song are the exceedingly fine quality of the weaving and the fact that the gold thread has been gilded on both sides (gilding on one side is most common). It is known from Chinese records that Southern Song emperors used silk tapestries to mount paintings and cover handscrolls belonging to the imperial collection. Dragons surrounded by flowers were one of four tapestry designs used for these purposes. The border is a Chinese silk and gold textile dating from the early Ming dynasty. The density of its design and the quantity of gold thread with which it was woven are typical of luxury silks produced in China at that time. There is no information about the history of the cover or canopy other than that it is said to have been preserved in Tibet. Gifts of precious objects including textiles, however, are known to have been made to Tibetan officials and monasteries by the Mongol and early Ming rulers of China. Very possibly, the kesi (silk tapestry) was an imperial gift sent after the Southern Song dynasty was defeated by Kublai Khan in 1279. By that time, Tibet had become a single state closely allied with the Mongol imperial family. Whether the kesi was sewn to the blue-and-gold border before or after it reached Tibet is impossible to say. Nevertheless, the corners and attached tabs have suffered from extensive handling, and both the border and the tapestry show evidence of having been folded for a long time. The textile was probably used on special occasions as a canopy held over a sacred object or holy person and was otherwise stored folded. A.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1995.1
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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