Archive for the ‘Arts and Crafts in the Field of Apparel’ Category

Silk Weaving

July 14th, 2011 No comments
Monk's plain-gauze robe unearthed from Han-tombs at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hu'nan Province. It is made of highly fine natural silk, manifesting that Chinese silk weaving was already elaborate in workingmanship at that time.

Monk’s plain-gauze robe unearthed from Han-tombs at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hu’nan Province. It is made of highly fine natural silk, manifesting that Chinese silk weaving was already elaborate in workingmanship at that time.

The Chinese silk weaving is well known in the world for its long history, advanced crafts and fine workmanship. Silk fabrics in ancient times include the following varieties: juan(thin, tough silk), sha (gauze as a general term), qi (damast), luo (silk gauze), jin (brocade), duan (satin), kesi (brocade woven using a special craft).

In the Shang Dynasty, silk fabric with conspicuous twisting warp weave ad already emerged. When it came to the Western Zhou Dynasty, more complicated brocade-weaving craft was developed. Down to the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Period, silk-weaving had attained a rather high level. Silk fabrics cover juan, luo, sha, and jin; the designs include rhombus pattern, S-shape pattern, and geometric patterns adorned with dragon, phoenix, human figure, etc. Silk weaving and knitting in the Qin and Han dynasties, Han in particular, made a leap forward on the basis of the Warring States Period tradition, containing more varied silk fabrics such as jin, ling (twill-weave silk), qi, luo, sha, juan, gao (thin and white silk), wan (fine silk fabrics), etc. The common designs on silk fabrics in the Han Dynasty include floating clouds, animals, flowers and plants, auspicious characters, and all sorts of geometric figures. The art of silk-weaving in the Han Dynasty was already elaborate, in particular in the weaving of single-thread gauze with even distributed meshes, of which the representative work is a plain gauzed Buddhist monk’s robe unearthed from the Han Tomb No.1 of Mawangdui in Changsha, Hu’nan Province. It measures 128 centimeters across from one end to the other end of the two sleeves, 190 centimeters long and yet weighs only 49 grams. Extremely marvelous.

Silk weaving in the Tang Dynasty was meticulous in the division of work. The Weaving and Dyeing Administration under

Work of Shen Zifan, kesi silk weaving craftsman of Southern Song Dynasty, meticulously depicting the serene and realistic style of flower-and-bird painting of Southern Song Dynasty.

Work of Shen Zifan, kesi silk weaving craftsman of Southern Song Dynasty, meticulously depicting the serene and realistic style of flower-and-bird painting of Southern Song Dynasty.

the central government had been set up to take charge of production, while private silk-weaving business could be found all over the country, producing large quantity of fabrics. Craftspeople at that time did their utmost to seek gorgeous coloring effect. Among the multiple varieties, brocade was the best-known, called “Tang brocade.” As is different from traditional craft in which warp was used to weave decorative patterns, Tang brocade-weaving, affected by the Western Region textile culture, used weft to form decorative patterns sandwiched between warp weave. It was called “weft brocade.” The loom used for weft brocade by which decorative patterns are formed with multi-layer and multi-colored weft, is complicated in structure but easy to handle, capable of weaving more complex designs and broad fabrics. Since the middle period of Tang Dynasty, using weft to form decorative patterns had become the mainstream in silk jacquard weave. The Tang brocade, which assimilated exotic ornamental patterns, manifested a fresh, resplendent and imposing style. Aside from Tang brocade, ling (silk fabric with twill weave as basic characteristic) was also very popular, in particular the lian-ling manufactured in Zhejiang Province, which was best known at that time. Dou Shilun, best reputed silk pattern designer, usually took subject matters like sheep, horse, dragon, phoenix, etc. for decorative patterns. As what he designed often appear original, unconventional, and full of vitality, they were called “Duke of Lingyang patterns,” as he was ever made Duke of Lingyang by the emperor.
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Printing and Dyeing

July 14th, 2007 No comments
Batik works of Bai nationality in Dali, Yunnan Province.

Batik works of Bai nationality in Dali, Yunnan Province.

Dyeing textile using minerals and plants is a time-honored practice in China. Early in the Neolithic Age some six to seven thousand years ago, the Chinese ancients could already dye red sackcloth with hematite powder. Through long-term practice in production, Chinese people had learnt the techniques of dye-extracting and application to yield colorful fabrics.

During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, with dyeing techniques gradually improved, governmental officials were appointed such as “dyeing men,” “dyestuff keepers,” etc. in charge of relative affairs. In the ancient classic The Book of Songs, fabrics in various colors are mentioned, indicating that dyestuffs at that time were continuously increasing in varieties.

The dyeing techniques came up to a rather high level in the Han Dynasty. There were two major approaches: weaving before dyeing, as with juan-silk, silk gauze and damask, and dying before weaving, as involving brocade. The brocades bearing the Chinese characters “yan nian yi shou” (meaning prolonging life) and “wan shi ru yi” (meaning everything going the way as one wishes) excavated from the Eastern Han tombs in Minfeng of Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region in 1959 were weaved wit silk threads of diverse colors including crimson, white, yellow, brown, sapphire blue, pale blue, glossy dark green, dark reddish purple, pale orange, light tan, etc., manifesting the crafts people’s superb skills in dyeing and color matching. The Tang Dynasty silk fabrics unearthed in Turpan of Xinjiang are broght with as many as twenty four colors. Quite a few assorted colors were obtained by first dyeing primary colors and then applying process-dying method.
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January 7th, 2005 No comments

Flowery Brook- Fisher's Retreat, Ming-Dynastry Gu-Embroidered painting, 33.4cm vertical,  24.5 cm horizontalEmbroidery in China goes back to ancient times. Some four thousand years ago when China was passing from primitive society to slave society, there was as rule that the tribal leaders should wear formal attire with patterns of the sun, the moon, and stars embroidered on the upper garment; of weeds, fire, etc., on trousers (skirts) when grand ceremonies were held such as celebrations, sacrifice-offerings, etc.

In the spring and autumn and the warring states period, along with the progress of agriculture, the lifestyle that men plough the fields and women weave became more firmly fixed, mulberry-and—hemp planting and spinning-and-weaving extensively spread, and the embroidery craft grew mature gradually. To date the earliest embroidery works handed down from ancient times are the two pieces unearthed from the Chu Tombs in the Warring States Period. By applying braid embroidering method (also known as locking embroidering) that features neat stitch, flowing line, and tasteful coloring, the patterns of swimming-dragon and dancing-phoenix; fierce-tiger and auspicious-beast embroidered on silks appear natural and lifelike, which gives full expression to the achievements of embroidery art in the ancient State of Chu.

When it came to Qin and Han dynasty, the art of embroidery further developed following the progress of silk-spinning. A diversified batch of embroidered works well preserved was unearthed from the Han tombs at Mawangdui of Changsha, Hu’nan Province. These embroideries, which represent the artistic style as well as the high level of embroidery in the Han Dynasty, mostly have patterns of ripple-like clouds, soaring phoenix, galloping holy beast, ribbon-shaped flowers, geometric figures, etc., using basically locking method with neat stitching, compact composition and smooth lines.
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