2,000-Year-Old Chinese Embroidered Silk Fabric

It is a consensus view that silk fabric was invented by Chinese, but the opinions are divided as to since when Chinese started to produce silk.

Some researchers believe it began since the age of Fuxi (伏羲), which was during the Paleolithic time, and others consider it must be during the time when Yellow Emperor reigned, which was the period of Neolithic.

The tangible evidence discovered so far includes weaving tools and cups engraved with images of silkworms, unearthed in the 1970s from Zhejiang’s Hemudu cultural site dating back to 7,000 years ago.

In an earlier excavation in 1958 at Wuxing Qianshanyang archaeological site, also in Zhejiang, silk fabric and silk threads made more than 5,000 years ago were unearthed.

According to the Book of Documents (尚书), one of the Five Classics of ancient Chinese literature, as early as in 2,700 BC, it was made into a law for certain garments worn on certain occasions to be made with embroidered silk fabric (衣画而裳绣).

In 1972 during the Cultural Revolution, a golden age of Chinese archaeological discovery and research, A Han Dynasty tomb known as Mawangdui in Hunan Province was excavated.

Among the cultural relics unearthed from Mawangdui, there are a number of embroidered silk clothes and fabric.

This is a piece of silk fabric unearthed from Mawangdui embroidered with images referring to swallows (a common migratory bird in China) and flowering plants, indicating the promised return of spring, thus the embroidery design is named Promise Message (信期绣).

This is a 2,000-year-old Chinese perfume bag made with silk fabric embroidered Promise Message pattern, unearthed from Mawangdui tomb.

This is a piece of silk fabric unearthed from Mawangdui embroidered with a design called Longevity, which uses coloured silk threads to illustrate the profiles of dragons among the roll clouds.

In Chinese mythology, the Chinese dragon (Looog) is the guild on the path to immortality.

A close look at the Longevity embroidery design unearthed from Mawangdui.

This is a piece of silk fabric unearthed from Mawangdui embroidered with a design called Cloud Rider, which uses coloured silk threads to illustrate the profiles of Pheonix and images of clouds.

The rhombus-shaped patterns with a black round dot in the middle represent phoenix’s eyes. In Chinese mythology, phoenixes only appear in the world when peace is about to grace the land.

A close look at the Cloud Rider embroidery design unearthed from Mawangdui.

While most embroidery works discovered in Mawangdui employ classic Chain Stitch, this one utilises running stitch to create a sharp end of the plants. Running stitch is more commonly used today.

This is a piece of embroidered silk fabric unearthed from Mawangdui that uses Single Chain Stitch to create a Chess Board pattern.

2 comments

  • Anonymous

    Hello ALL THINGS CHINESE…!!!
    It’s been a long, hard rocky road to finally reach you. That is hoping that I am finally sucessful. I had turned off my gmail some time ago because it became a machine to produce advertising…!!! Just checking it now, I had saw you postings. Certainly I don’t know how this happened but I’m sure glad it did. I will back back tomorrow, for it is 1 a.m . & I am beat.
    Thank you, your long lost good friend…!!!! Lawrence…,

    • Hello Lawrence, I’m so happy to see you here 🤗 What a nice surprise 😃

      It has been a good three months (a quarter of a year) since the Google+ ship sank. Now apart from a few fellow passengers floating with me on the open sea of Mind (minds.com) and a private swimming pool MeWe (mewe.com), I have no idea where the rest of the 240,000 people have gone to. 😟

      I’m still hanging around Twitter and Minds on daily bases and trying to update this website as frequently as possible. But since it is deep in winter while winter is the best season to work on consciousness so I am advised to spend more time on meditation, therefore, I have less time online.

      How about you? Are you busy for another tour with your band?

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