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  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1830-1860 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven silk crêpe with silk embroidery

  • Credit Line:

    Given by HM Queen Mary

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The square shawl is not part of the Chinese dress tradition. It was a popular shape in Europe, where ladies both wore square shawls and used them in interior decoration.They draped them over pianos and tables and pinned them on walls.

In the workshops, specialised weavers must have set up the very wide looms needed to produce the roughly square seam-free pieces of silk. In Britain, these fringed silk shawls were popular from about 1840 to1910 because they were seen as 'artistic' and bohemian rather than as mainstream fashion accessories.

Physical description

The pattern of this square plain weave, silk crêpe shawl resolves into four identical quarter sections. In the corner is a scene of three Chinese people under a blossoming tree in a garden; on either side is a pagoda and a scene of two men punting a boat on a river. Over the corner scene, nearer the centre, is another garden scene with a lady playing a flute and a servant bringing a vase containing a plant. Various shades of red and purple are used for the flowers; green for the foliage; blue for the water; and the ground is white silk.The silk embroidery uses satin and split stitches. A fringe surrounds the shawl. The square shawl is not part of the Chinese dress tradition, the shape being dictated purely by the needs of European fashion, where they were both items of clothing and features in interior decoration, being draped over tables and pianos as well as being pinned on walls. The workshops where the shawl silk was woven must have had specialized weavers to set up the very wide looms needed to produce the roughly square pieces without seaming the material. In Victorian and Edwardian Britain these fringed shawls held appeal for their supposedly 'arty', somewhat bohemian associations rather than as components in the fashion mainstream.

Place of Origin

China (made)


ca. 1830-1860 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Woven silk crêpe with silk embroidery


Width: 160 cm excluding fringe, Height: 160 cm excluding fringe

Object history note

Registered File number 1294/1936.

Descriptive line

Woven silk crêpe square shawl with silk embroidery, China, Qing dynasty, ca. 1830-1860

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

Clunas, Craig, ed. Chinese Export Art and Design. London, V&A, 1987. p.33, figure 10. ISBN 1851770003.


Silk (textile); Silk thread; Crêpe


Embroidering; Weaving

Subjects depicted

Landscapes (representations); Landscape; Gardens; River; Vase; Punts; Plant pot; Flute; Pagoda; Figures (representations)


Textiles; Interiors


East Asia Collection

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