Gorgeous 17th Century Antique Chinese Ming Dynasty Silk Textile, Country of Origin: China, Circa Date: 17th Century – It is difficult to find words to describe the rarity and beauty of this 17th century Chinese Ming Dynasty piece of silk cloth. Some of the most exquisite artworks and textiles came out of the Ming Dynasty. To find one so beautifully preserved is a rare treat.
The Ming Dynasty ruled China from 1368 to 1644. It was the last of the imperial Han Dynasties. One of the main features of the Chinese Ming Dynasty was a desire to create self-sufficient rural communities, primarily to support military efforts. Ming society evolved into a highly structured form, and it was a time of state-sponsored efforts to develop the arts. Some of the most beautiful works in all mediums were created during this time.
Against this backdrop, the production and artistry of silk textiles reached new heights. The history of silk production in China goes back to the Neolithic period. Under the Ming Dynasty, it gained a new level of importance and was a way to distinguish various social classes. During the Ming Dynasty, the production of silk was performed by women.
Those of lower classes were forbidden to wear silk, and it was reserved for only the Emperor and the highest dignitaries. This would not change until the Qing Dynasty, which would not come into power until the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. The making of silk textiles was highly regulated and had to be carried out under a strict code. Silk cloth was a key diplomatic gift.
We know that this piece of cloth was made for someone of high social status or as a gift. The green dragon and cloud motif add another dimension to the story of this remarkable piece. The clouds are a representation of the heavenly realms. The brown background represents earth. Green dragons are associated with spring, growth, nature, peace, and health. They represent harmony and prosperity. The green dragon also represents the cardinal direction of the east.
The green dragon stands for abundance and the earthly realm. This is an important Chinese dragon design piece of cloth from a symbolic standpoint because heaven, earth, and all realms in between are represented. The blue color in the cloudband designs represent water. Gold represents wealth, and red is good fortune.
As you can see, there is more behind the story of this rare and valuable piece of history than its beauty. The level of detail and workmanship is breathtaking. One thing for certain is that the rest of this Ming Dynasty textile found its way into a very important place, either as a garment, home furnishing, or as a diplomatic gift. This would make an exceptional piece of artwork mounted and framed archivally for generations to come.