Damask with Cloud Palmettes and Chinese Characters
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Silk satin damask
Overall: 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm)
Mount: 15 x 12 1/2 x 1 1/2 in. (38.1 x 31.7 x 3.8 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1946
Not on view
Trade or diplomacy must have played a role in the life of textiles such as this example (now darkened but originally blue), which, according to records, was found in Egypt. The palmette pattern originated in Central Asia and the eastern Iranian world. Here, it also features a Chinese cloud border and flawlessly rendered versions of the Chinese character for longevity (shou) in the center of and atop each one. Longevity damasks like this piece must have been present in other regions, too, as they probably inspired the designs of some of the rare surviving late thirteenth- to early fourteenth-century carpets of Konya, Turkey.