School of Design

ULITA - an Archive of International Textiles

apron panel
Date: 19th century
Dimensions: 76 x 45.5 cm (29 15/16 x 17 15/16 in.)
Medium: silk, cotton, metallic yarns
Made in: China
Description: The main design theme of this item is the "promising future of children". The central motif is the qilin carrying the boy, accompanied by two other boys. One carries a vase containing three halberds; another is holding a pomegranate fruit. The pomegranate has a reddish centre full of seeds. The character "seed" and the character "child" share the same pronunciation in Chinese, so the pomegranate becomes a homophonic symbol for many children. The boy riding the qilin holds a ruyi, an S-shaped ornamental object with a big end to represent the sacred fungus linzhi, used as a sign of longevity and good luck. Other motifs included are flying bats and auspicious plants such as chrysanthemums, plum blossom, orchids and bamboo. The ground fabric is monochrome red silk brocaded with floral motifs. Satin, seed and couching stitches are used in the embroidery. The inner border is of narrow woven ribbons. The outer border is of black silk satin embroidered with floral patterns. The back lining is a piece of coarse cotton fabric which has been printed with a white and blue pattern of stylised floral motifs using stencils.
Inv. No.: 38

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