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Event Details

The History and Development of Chinese Imperial Silk: Heaven's Embroidered Cloth

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 , 19:30
Lecture Room EH009, Elvet Hill House, Durham

Lecture by David Rosier. This lecture is hosted by the Friends of the Oriental Museum, as part of the 2021/22 series. All welcome.

This lecture traces the origins of, plus myths,that surround Imperial Chinese Silk. The fabric was a highly desirable product that mesmerised the World and, on occasions, exceeded the value of gold or jade in China.

Initial consideration will be given to the origins of silk in Neolithic times (c 4000BC) through to the creation of Imperial Silk Workshops in the early dynasties of China producing Regulated Court Costume.

The focus will then move to consider the rapid expansion of the silk industry and, in particular, the role of the Silk Road in transporting this coveted product to the Middle East and eventually to Europe.

Specific consideration will be given to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) where silk weaving and embroidery reach a peak in terms of quality and variety of fabrics.

Finally, the lecture reviews the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) where from the highest standards of production achieved in the 18th Century we see quality deteriorating, as the quantity of silk produced accelerates, due to the rapid expansion of Commercial Workshops, plus the impact of mechanisation in the late 19th Century.

During each period of China’s history examples of both fabrics, and Imperial Costume, will be illustrated that represent the pinnacle of the weavers’ and embroiderers’ expertise.

David is a Past Committee Member of the Hong Kong Textile Society and a frequent speaker on Chinese Imperial Insignia of Rank, Court Costume and Dress Accessories plus the Structure and Mechanics of the Imperial Government and the Emperors of the Qing Dynasty.

This lecture is open to all and free of charge to attend. No booking required.