Artwork: Dong Baby Carrier
Design No: CH1004 (B)
Embroidery Style: Po Xian Xiu
Era: Nationalist Republic Era (circa 1920)
Framed Dimensions:
675mm x 675mm
Unframed Dimensions:
375mm x 375mm

The Story behind the Artwork

During the Hongzhi period of the Ming dynasty in the 15th century it was recorded in Guizhou Tu Jing Xin Zhi that Dong embroidery from Liping was of the finest quality and resembled silk ribbons. The intricate and unique embroidery techniques depicted in this work clearly show that these traditions have been nurtured through the generations. It is said that the geographical isolation of Liping County has helped to shield its distinctive embroidery style from the undue influence of the dominant Han culture, and certainly most of its patterns and motifs date back many hundreds of years.

All the colours and motifs of this work are symbolic. The use of pink indicates a desire for further generations to be born. The contrast between the black and the red silk base cloths shows a passion for life and romance. Green reflects the dependence and integration of the people with nature. The motifs used symbolise their hopes for the future. The depiction of two children indicates the desire for more children, while the use of the gourd, flute, sword and fan which are treasures of the ‘Eight Immortals’ (a part of their myths and legends) are seen as good omens for their children’s future lives.

The technical and artistic skills of the embroiderer are obvious in this rare and unique piece. The geometry of the work is very regular with the use of rhombus and triangles yet the free flowing embroidery style gives it an artistic fluency that softens and enlivens the overall effect. Using both silk and bu (hand woven cotton) for the base cloth is indicative of the Dong style which seamlessly integrates the humble with the elegant. The embroidery is bursting with significant motifs and a rich colour palette that makes this work exceptional and one of the finest examples you will find of this period.