An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century

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Lot 172
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case
Early 18th Century

Sold for US$ 60,075 inc. premium
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case
Early 18th Century
Formed as two joined circular panels each bordered with blue silk woven with gilt paper into a scrolling lotus pattern, the one face with a forward facing dragon under a shou medallion and surrounded by clouds, all worked with tiny embroidered seed pearls, coral and couched silk threads, reversed with knotted chain stitches forming ruyi and scrolling arabesques.
14 1/2in (36.8 cm) diameter

Footnotes

  • 18世纪初 緝米珠繡雲龍捧壽紋團鏡囊

    Provenance
    Sotheby's New York, 18 March 2017, lot 1439

    來源
    紐約蘇富比,2017年3月18日,拍品編號 1439


    The exquisite quality of this mirror cover indicates the original owner can be safely narrowed to the Yongzheng Emperor, the Qianlong Emperor, his principal wife the Empress Xiaoxian, or the Dowager Empress. Freshwater pearls harvested from the Sungari, Yalu and Amur Rivers were an expression of the Manchu homeland, and their use was strictly regulated within the Qing court. The splendid appearance of seed pearlwork as illustrated here is due in part to the hundreds of tiny beads being graded and arranged by their size and uniformity. With smaller pearls at the edges and larger pearls used in the center, the precisely threaded pearls enhance the three dimensional appearance of the dragon.

    The Qianlong emperor eventually decided the use of exquisite pearl work was too lavish--even for the Qing court--and in 1776 he issued a edict forbidding the use of seed pearl embroidery, reflecting on the considerable labor and cost to produce such luxurious items. However, early Qianlong period formal portraits of the Emperor and Xiaoxianchun illustrate the use of seed pearls in both the robes and accessories worn by the Qianlong Emperor and the Empress.

    Several Qing Imperial robes employing embroidered seed pearls are extant. A jifu belonging to Rongxian, the second daughter of the Kangxi emperor and wife of the Mongol Prince Wuergun, was discovered in 1976. Constructed with a 100,000 tiny pearls the robe is believed to have been part of her dowry. This example and others are noted in John Vollmer, Silks for Thrones and Altars, Chinese Costumes and Textiles, Paris, 2003, pp 48-61, and there are three additional seed pearl robes in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing and illustrated in Qing dai gong ting fu shi The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, no 51, Hong Kong 2004.
Contacts
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
An embroidered silk and seed pearl dragon mirror case Early 18th Century
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