‘Fenghuang Table Banner’


Design No: CH1080
Embroidery Style: Po Xian Xiu
Era: Late Qing Era (circa 1880)
805mm x 825mm

Reference Material: Li  Xiang Shu and Li Li Fang, Hu Xiang Ci Xiu: Xiang Xiu Juan, pp. 2 – 84.

The Story behind the Artwork

This exquisite table banner was crafted during the second half of the 19th century in Fenghuang County, Hunan Province. A wealthy family would have commissioned the work for hanging in the main reception room of their home in order to display their riches and rank.

The Qilin (Kirin Lion), who dominates the lower panel of the work, was a mythical creature of good omen traditionally regarded by the Han as a symbol of benevolence, protection, prosperity, success and longevity. Qilin have been described in many different ways. Some think of the creature as a rare form of unicorn. Others describe him as the head of a dragon emerging from the scaly body of a tiger. Others again see him as a creature with a single horn on his forehead, a back in many colours, the hooves of a horse, and the body of a deer ending with the tail of an ox. The Qilin who curls powerfully as the centrepiece of this table banner catches our eye, looking out at us in rapt concentration. Two smaller Qilin curl towards him, looking inwards. The Buddhist eight treasures (parasol, two gold fish, treasure vase, lotus, conch shell, endless knot, prayer wheel and streamer proclaiming victory) surround the three Qilin in order to bring good luck and wealth to the family. The top panel portrays the Eight Immortals, embodiments of prosperity and longevity. They belong to the religious heritage of folk Daoism.

The style of the work shows characteristics of Late Qing folk textile techniques as employed in Hunan Province. Also the style has been influenced by Su and Yue manners of embroidery. Gold and silver threads are used to create an atmosphere that is extravagant, luxurious and full of excitement. The whole work is highly structured, complex, sophisticated, subtle and yet strong. Embroidery of this age, quality and cultural significance is rare, and has been enhanced here by the high level of technical and artistic skill possessed by the embroiderer.