Panel with Longevity (Shou) Characters
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Silk and metallic thread tapestry (kesi)
79 1/4 x 22 in. (201.29 x 55.88 cm)
Gift of Alice Boney, 1945
Writing the character for longevity (shou) in one hundred different forms has a long tradition in China. The earliest example, a stone carving dated 1229, still survives in Guangxi Province, and highly stylized examples are found in all media from later dynasties. Here, the character shou is reproduced in ten different forms, and the purported source for each form is given above in smaller characters. These panels may have once been part of a set of ten hangings with one hundred such characters. Although the gold thread has abraded, it’s not hard to imagine how marvelous and luminous this work would have been when it was displayed within the original set at a luxurious birthday celebration.
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