late Yuan (1271–1368)–early Ming (1368–1644) dynasty
ca. 14th century
Silk and gilt paper
Overall: 58 7/8 x 25 1/4 in. (149.5 x 64.1 cm)
Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 1997
Not on view
This patchwork panel comprises various silk textiles, mostly satins and damasks, exquisitely embroidered with the motifs of flowers, fruit, and the occasional butterfly in a technique called needle looping. Worked in silk over gilt paper, the technique allows the luminous gold to show where loops are intentionally skipped. The patches in this Chinese example seem to have been constructed and embroidered as self-contained units that were stitched together to form a larger panel. By contrast, Korean patchwork cloths are usually fashioned from fragments of unadorned, rather than embroidered fabrics, though there are non-patchwork bojagi fashioned from a single cloth with embroidered decoration.
This textile was probably used in a Buddhist context but its precise function is unknown. A comparable example, traditionally associated with the Chinese monk Wuxue Zuyuan (1226–1286), resides in the collection of the Buddhist temple Ekaku-ji in Kamakura, Japan.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Textiles," May 16, 2008–August 3, 2008.