Length of Woven Silk
Silk satin, brocaded, gilt- and silver-paper-wrapped thread brocading
41 x 21.75 in (104.1 x 55.2 cm)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Helen and Alice Colburn Fund
Not on view
A small number of Chinese textiles were based on European “bizarre” silk designs. This example combines a sophisticated mélange of lush flora and fantastic architectural features—elements that periodically appeared in European silks from about 1695 to 1720. The gilt-paper-wrapped thread woven into the fabric is uniquely Chinese, but the cloth’s narrow loom width is the same as that of many eighteenth-century European dress silks. This is surprising because most Chinese export silks were woven on wider looms. Perhaps such silks, masquerading as European products, were made to circumvent the English and French bans on imported Asian silks enacted at the turn of the eighteenth century.