Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Woman's Sleeveless Jacket with Butterflies

Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Tapestry-woven silk and metallic thread (kesi)
Dimensions:
27 x 36 in. (68.6 x 91.4 cm)
Classification:
Costumes-Tapestries
Credit Line:
Gift of Florance Waterbury, 1945
Accession Number:
45.125.15
Not on view
Tapestry-woven (kesi) silk and metallic thread Emblematic of summer and joy, butterflies have long inspired Chinese writers, artists, and even philosophers. For example, the Zhuangzi, a book of Daoist thought (ca. 300 A.D.), contains a story in which the purported author, Zhuangzi dreams he is a butterfly. By the late Tang dynasty, a story of "butterfly lovers" appeared in which a young couple, tragically thwarted in their wishes to wed, turn into a pair of butterflies and flutter away.

The delicate tapestry-woven (kesi) butterflies seen on the green background of this sleeveless jacket also occur on the black background of its border. Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, the borders at the edges of garments became increasingly elaborate.
Florance Waterbury , New York (until 1945; donated to MMA)
Comune di Roma. "La Seta e La Sua Via," December 15, 1993–March 14, 1994.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Silk Tapestry (Kesi)," March 17, 2004–July 4, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Costumes and Accessories of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911)," August 8, 2007–October 28, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Textiles," April 18, 2012–October 14, 2012.

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