Artwork: Maonan Woven Silk Bed Cover
Design No: CH1030
Embroidery Style: Maonan Weaving
Era: Nationalist Republic (circa 1930)
Framed Dimensions:
955mm x 1265mm
Unframed Dimensions:
640mm x 880mm
Reference Material: Duan Jian Hua, Min Jian Ran Zhi, pp. 40 – 43

The Story behind the Artwork

Maonan brocade is recognised as one of the eight most famous in China and is the unique cultural symbol of the Maonan people. Traditionally nearly every home had its own loom on which they wove fabric for everyday use. Women learned the craft of spinning and weaving from a very early age and developed their skills throughout their lives passing the traditions down through the generations. Competition amongst the villagers was intense as women were judged on the quality and quantity of woven fabrics they produced.

This is an excellent example of Maonan work using the traditional colours of pink and blue and incorporating traditional motifs important to their culture. The wide panel includes the ‘water wheel’ or ‘the wheel of heaven’ pattern, the thinner panels include the ‘sunflower’ and Ba Jiao (eight cornered flower) patterns. The predominant use of the ‘phoenix flower’ and Xiang Lu Flower (resembles an incense burner) represent both their agricultural based lives and spiritual beliefs.

The impact of the changing social structure in rural China is weakening many of cultural traditions as the older generations slowly pass away and the young move to the cities to seek employment in modern construction or industry. Younger generations struggle to see the relevance of ancient crafts in the contemporary world. This work is an exceptional example of vintage Maonan weaving which is increasingly becoming hard to find.