Canton antique Chinese painted silk frgments (collection)

£ 740.00

– Unavailable


A collection of five luxury 'Export' painted satin silk pieces measuring 80 x 73 cm, 130 x 73 cm, 120 x 73 cm, 105 x 73 cm, and 130 x 68 cm (plus two fragments). The main pieces all have yellow selvedges with the width being 73 cm. Nearly all are stained. The shapes the result of once being fashioned into ladies dresses now unpicked accounting for the irregular shapes. The relation to porcelain decorated wares is striking but unsurprising. These texiles use semi precious materials for pigments, including Malacite, Azurite and Turquoise.

At the very least the Chinese silk trade goes back 2500 years. Silk was probably China's most important single export commodity, only being overtaken by tea in the 19th cent. The importance of the trade in silk cannot be over-stressed; its techniques were jealously guarded and its domestic sale was as critical as its export. As the largest single trade commodity from basic to luxury, textiles lead to a range of social expression often set in rigid formal terms in pre-revolutionary China.

The British and Dutch, following the Portuguese, established 'Hongs' and trading houses in Canton etc. to take advantage of the sea trade with China, which of course included silk trading, thus avoiding the more unreliable silk road. With the East India Company, eventually Britain became the dominant foreign power taking most of the cake roughly by the early 19th century. The relationship being more and more dictated by Britain. Other Europeans/Americans focusing on trade forced Chinese Imperial influence to wane.

• circa 1760

Ref 15668

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