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  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin weave silk with silk embroidery

  • Credit Line:

    Addis Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This decorative roundel depicts Li Tieguai, one of the Eight Immortals. The Eight Immortals are auspicious figures from Chinese mythology, and originally associated with Daoism, China's native religion. These semi-mythical figures are a favourite subject in China and began to appear on all types of objects in the 14th century.

Li Tieguai's name literally means 'Li with the Iron-Crutch', which is one of the implements he is identified with. He also carries a gourd, which is supposed to contain life-saving elixirs.

Physical description

Roundel of red satin weave, with silk embroidery depicting Li Tieguai with bottle gourd. It is one of eight embroidered roundels depicting the Eight Immortals.

Place of Origin

China (made)


19th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Satin weave silk with silk embroidery


Diameter: 25 cm

Object history note

From a set of eight embroidered roundels, FE.123 to G-1983. The roundels are of red satin weave silk, the edges of each turned under but not sewn down. Each roundel is embroidered with one of the eight immortals in a garden setting. The embroidery is mostly executed in polychrome untwisted silk thread in a variety of straight stitches, stem stitch and small knots. There are also small amounts of gold thread couched down singly or in pairs and on one roundel twisted silk thread has been used for the pine needles (FE.123A-1983).

Registered File number 1965/3344.

Descriptive line

Roundel, satin weave silk with silk embroidered design of Li Tieguai, one of the Eight Daoist Immortals, China, Qing dynasty, 19th century.

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

Wilson, Verity. A Diplomat's Collection: The Chinese Textiles of Sir John Addis. Arts of Asia. 2003, vol. 33, no. 2. pp. 90-101.

Labels and date

Each of these embroidered roundels shows one of the 'Eight Immortals'. They are figures for good luck and were originally associated with Daoism, one of China's three belief systems. The other two are Buddhism and Confucianism. This group of semi-mythical personages is a favourite subject in China and began to appear regularly on all types of objects in the fourteenth century.

The 'Eight' are not always shown together. Sometimes only the personal emblems they carry are depicted. These identifying objects are bamboo tube drum and sticks for the Immortal Zhang Guolao, a fan for Zhongli Quan, a flute for Han Xiangzi, a lotus for He Xiangu, a basket for Lan Caihe, a crutch and a bottle gourd for Li Tieguai, a sword and fly-whisk for Lu Dongbin and castanets for Cao Guojiu. Some of these emblems can be seen on other textiles in the exhibition. They are not always easy to pick out as they often become part of a large repertoire of decorative shapes and do not always look like the original forms.

In China, the colour red is used on joyful occasions. The colour of these roundels has faded through age to an orange colour. The roundels are the right size and shape for pillow ends but we do not know if that was what they were used for. The careful embroidery, with each figure framed by a different landscape setting, is mostly executed in untwisted silk thread. This gives the roundels a soft glossiness as they catch the light. Some gold-wrapped thread has also been used. []


Silk (textile); Silk thread


Satin weave; Embroidering

Subjects depicted

Daoist Immortals; Gourd; Gardens


Textiles; Embroidery; Daoism; Religion


East Asia Collection

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