chinese textiles


捣练图, 唐代张萱.《Dao Lian Tu》by Zhang Xuan in Tang Dynasty. Zhang portrayed the scene of ladies making/ironing/sewing/hammering lian(练,a kind of Chinese textile). Ladies in the painting wear breast-high ruqun(齐胸襦裙), a common type of hanfu, popular in Tang Dynasty. The details are amazing. This is one of the most precious ancient paintings in China. Tang court ladies painting ranks among top 10 ancient Chinese paintings. It is made up of a series paintings: You Chun Tu, Dao Lian Tu, Zan Hua Tu, Hui Shan Tu, Gong Le Tu.唐宫仕女图是中国十大传奇名画之一,分为一系列仕女图:虢国夫人游春图,捣练图,簪花仕女图,挥扇仕女图,宫乐图。

Patchwork of silk, probably a kasaya, 750/899 AD - Tang dynasty

A kasaya is a Buddhist monastic robe.

The symmetrical arrangement of patches along a central vertical axis is consistent with the prescribed form for a kasaya. Even though these patches of cloth were originally meant as a sign of humility, a splendid array of silks has been used in this example.

British Museum


Banyan with matching waistcoat. 1800. Silk. China (material), Italy (made).Royal blue, gold, dragon robe. I really like both the style and the cut of this banyan. The Chinese influence is clear in the colors and cloth pattern. Also in the collar design. The cut of the banyan is a bit unusual in that it’s not got a straight hem on the bottom. The waistcoat is unusual in this time period in that it’s long sleeved (most were short-sleeved by the 19th century), and the cuffs are larger than normal for this period. 

It’s in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum which has this to say about it:

Chinese design was immensely admired and sought-after in Europe and this banyan and waistcoat are a unique blend of Chinese textiles and Western tailoring. They are clearly cut, tailored and sewn in a European style. Banyans and nightgowns were popular informal men’s garments worn for leisure at home and among friends.

Both banyan and waistcoat have been made out of a silk woven especially for the Chinese Imperial Court. There were specific garments known as ‘dragon robes’ to be worn at court in China, and these were usually not available for export to the West. They were richly brocaded in gold and coloured silks with dragons on the front and back of the robe and stylised landscape borders. Dark blue, along with yellow and black were the colours worn by the Emperor and his family, according to occasion. Imperial dragons always had five toes; the four-toed dragons depicted here were intended for a relative of the Emperor. The landscape includes mountains, associated in Chinese symbolism with happiness, and rivers, representing longevity. The colours used, design and quality of weaving are typical of silk to the late Jia Qing dynasty or 1800 to 1825.

The Italian tailor who made the banyan and waistcoat, adapted to the wide, flowing style of the Chinese robe, while retaining the usual European front opening instead of the traditional Chinese side opening. The characteristic cuffs on a Chinese dragon robe have been inverted on the banyan sleeves. Careful piecing of the brocaded design and use of the undecorated parts of the satin ground have made the conventional sleeved style of a European waistcoat. The style of the waistcoat, with long sleeves and short skirts is old-fashioned for the early 19th century.