School of Design

ULITA - an Archive of International Textiles

apron panel
Date: late 18th century
Dimensions: 54 x 57.5 cm (21 1/4 x 22 5/8 in.)
Medium: silk
Made in: China
Description: The central patterning is a Daoist composition of the boy Liu Hai playing with a toad. Liu Hai was a proficient student of Daoist magic. He was said to possess a specimen of the mystical three legged toad, which would convey him to anywhere he wished to go. Occasionally the creature would escape down the nearest well but Liu Hai had no difficulty in fishing it out by means of a line baited with gold coins. He is popularly represented with one foot resting on the toad, and holding in his hand a ribbon on which coins are strung, as illustrated in this embroidery. The design was regarded as auspicious and conducive to good fortune and wealth. Other related auspicious motifs represented here include bats, flowers, pomegranates, a boat carrying a money tree, symbolising wealth, and another boat carrying an osmanthus tree, symbolising nobility. Satin, seed and chain stitches are used in the embroidery. The ground fabric is silk satin which has faded to gold from its original red shade.
Inv. No.: 44
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