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Shawl

ca. 1830-1860 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

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.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Woven silk crêpe with silk embroidery
Brief description
Woven silk crêpe square shawl with silk embroidery, China, Qing dynasty, ca. 1830-1860
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.
Dimensions
  • Excluding fringe width: 160cm
  • Excluding fringe height: 160cm
Style
Credit line
Given by HM Queen Mary
Object history
Registered File number 1294/1936.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic reference
Clunas, Craig, ed. Chinese Export Art and Design. London, V&A, 1987. p.33, figure 10. ISBN 1851770003.
Collection
Accession number
T.8-1936

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Record createdNovember 7, 2002
Record URL
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