Qing Dynasty 16441911

Study of Qing textiles has focused on the court collections, now in Beijing's Palace Museum and in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, including wall decorations, curtains, desk frontals and upholstery fabrics, ceremonial and informal costumes, and works of art. When the Qianlong emperor, inspired by scholar-collectors of the late Ming as well as by the precedent of the Song Emperor Huizong (reigned 1101-1125), commissioned scholar-officials to catalog his art collections (producing the Bidian Zhulin and the Shiqu Baoji, published in 1744-1745, 1793, and 1816) these catalogs included examples of kesi and embroidery alongside painting and calligraphy. Qianlong himself may have selected works to be "reproduced" in kesi, including his own painting and poetry and works in his collection of painting and calligraphy.

The Qing emperors were Manchus whose homeland was in the far Northeast beyond China's traditional borders. When they conquered China, they were quick to adopt the Chinese practice of using gifts of silk, particularly cloth for dragon robes, as a means to bring the powerful leaders of vassal states into their own military bureaucracy. The Qing forebears had been on the receiving end of this practice during the late Ming period. Silk had long been used to pacify border peoples; Song examples are striking, but the practice began before the Han dynasty. Most visible among textiles surviving up to the twenty-first century are the lavish silk brocades bestowed upon Tibetan nobles and preserved in Tibet's dry climate until recent years.

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