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Quilt cover

Quilt cover

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1550-1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk embroidery on satin weave silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This textile object is a embroidered bedcover, thought to have been made or processed in China for a foreign market. Although the background has now faded into a vermillion shade, it would have been on a striking red backgrouind when it had been new.

The main centre of production of Chinese export textiles in the 16th - 17th century would have been Canton, or Macau island, (an island off the Cantonese coast where the Portuguese settled from 1557), as these were the main areas from which foreigners were allowed to trade with the Chinese, under Chinese supervision.

While it might have been possible that Cantonese embroiderers were copying from a design provided by their clients, the icononography and the embroidery technique bear an extraordinarily heavy Portuguese influence: The double-headed pelican motif was a popular motif in Portuguese textiles from the 17th - 19th century, and the embroidery bears great resemblance to that produced in the Portuguese region of Castelo Branco, particularly in the use of flossed, untwisted silk thread and lattice gold work executed on large textile backgrounds formed of a few loomwidths of silk panels joined together. The possibility exists that while the silk panel forming the background of this cover might have originated in China and been exported from Canton or Macau, the needlework may be Portuguese.

Physical description

Bedcover of cherry-coloured satin weave silk, embroidered in colours and couched gold threads with scroll foliage; in the centre a crowned double-headed bird.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1550-1750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk embroidery on satin weave silk


Length: 259 cm, Width: 208 cm, Width: 2060 mm Top edge, Width: 2050 mm Bottom edge, Length: 2500 mm Proper right, Length: 2510 mm Proper left, Weight: 15 kg Weighed on roller

Descriptive line

Quilt cover, embroidered silk, China, 1550-1750

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wilson, Verity. Chinese textiles. London: V&A publications, 2005, plate 25.


Silk (textile)



Subjects depicted



Household objects


East Asia Collection

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