18/19th C. Antique Chinese Qing Dynasty silk panel tapestry. Finely decorated with metallic threads showing front facing imperial gilt-bronze five-claws dragon, borne amidst fumes of a ruyi clouds and flames enclosed within a scrolling tendrils circular cartouche. The colors are harmonious, elegant and exquisite, the composition is sophisticated, simply a feast for the eye. All reserved against imperial yellow silk ground.
Measurements: 59-1/2" L x 30-1/2" W
The history of sericulture in China is a long one. The oldest silk found in China has been dated to about 3630 BC, which means that it is from the Chinese Neolithic period. This silk was found in the Henan Province, a region widely regarded as the cradle of Chinese civilization. Another example of very old silk in China is a group of silk threads, a braided silk belt and a woven silk cloth fragment dated to circa 2570 BC. These items were excavated from the Liangzhu culture site at Qianshanyang, in the Zhejiang Province. The Liangzhu was the last Neolithic jade culture in the Yangtze River Delta. The oldest known written reference to silk is on a bronze fragment found at the Shang Dynast site at Anyang. The Shang Dynasty existed from circa 1600 to circa 1050 BC. According to Chinese myth, sericulture and the weaving of silk cloth was invented by Lady Hsi-Ling-Shih, the wife of the mythical Yellow Emperor who is said to have ruled China in about 3,000 BC. Hsi-Ling-Shi is credited with both introducing sericulture and inventing the loom upon which silk is woven. In Chinese texts, she is sometimes referred to as The Goddess of Silk. For a long time, silk was a material reserved for the Emperor of China and those very close to him, such as important family members and very high-ranking dignitaries. Some very old and possibly semi-legendary sources write about how the Emperor always wore white silk within his imperial palace, and yellow silk when venturing outside. The principal wife to the Emperor and the heir to the imperial throne are also described as wearing yellow silk when showing themselves outside the palace.