This piece is a rare example of Yi embroidery reaching a level of the finest quality. A sifang flower, literally meaning ‘four corners’ flower, is at the very centre, symbolizing the genitalia of a woman. Four birds, flanking the flower, are formed from the decorative motif known as ‘flower grass’. The birds symbolize men’s genitals. The beaks of the four birds touch the flower, which is an esoteric way of portraying sex between men and a woman. The style, while using flowing natural forms, is highly abstract.
Green and white are the key colours, on a base cloth of hand-woven black calico, which creates a high contrast. The artist has edged the decorative elements with shiny silk in order not only to create a sense of luxury but also, thanks to the shininess, to keep evil away from the baby seated inside the carrier.
The embroidery of the piece required the artist to keep extremely close control of the stitch. The decorative elements are built up with flat embroidery, overworked with locked-edge stitch, which is not only very laborious but demands a high level of skill. Very few pieces of such high quality and style have survived from the Yi. This is a rare collector’s work.