Wall hanging with scene from an opera

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

Date: 19th century

Culture: China

Medium: Silk and metallic thread embroidery on plain-weave wool with animal fibers

Dimensions: Overall: 128 3/4 x 80 in. (327 x 203.2 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Embroidered

Credit Line: Gift of Fong Chow, 1959

Accession Number: 59.190


This wall hanging depicts a battle scene from an opera. A tangle of arms, legs, weapons, and costumes fills the visual space, bringing the drama of the battle to life, and the figures, enlarged to heroic scale, tower over the viewer. The textile makers used animal hair for the middle figure’s beard to add texture and three-dimensionality to the work. This banner might have hung on a stage to provide a background setting for an opera production, or perhaps it decorated another part of a theater.