Not currently on display at the V&A

Roundel

19th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This decorative roundel depicts Zhang Guolao, one of the Eight Immortals - 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.

Zhang Guolao is sometimes also depicted riding a donkey. Here, in his arms he is carrying his identifying implement, a bamboo tube with two rods known as the fish drum. The percussions produced by the fish drums are believed to facilitate divination and help to tell one's fortunes.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Satin weave silk with silk embroidery
Brief Description
Roundel, satin weave silk with silk embroidered design of Zhang Guolao, one of the Eight Daoist Immortals, China, Qing dynasty, 19th century.
Physical Description
Roundel of red satin weave, with silk embroidery depicting Zhang Guolao with bamboo rod and canes. It is one of eight embroidered roundels depicting the Eight Immortals.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 25cm
Style
Gallery Label
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.
Credit line
Addis Bequest
Object history
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.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This decorative roundel depicts Zhang Guolao, one of the Eight Immortals - 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.



Zhang Guolao is sometimes also depicted riding a donkey. Here, in his arms he is carrying his identifying implement, a bamboo tube with two rods known as the fish drum. The percussions produced by the fish drums are believed to facilitate divination and help to tell one's fortunes.
Bibliographic Reference
Wilson, Verity. A Diplomat's Collection: The Chinese Textiles of Sir John Addis. Arts of Asia. 2003, vol. 33, no. 2. pp. 90-101.
Collection
Accession Number
FE.123-1983

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record createdJune 25, 2009
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