A peking knot lotus and bat pattern silk kang cushion cover

十九世紀   籽綉緞蝙蝠八寶纏枝蓮花紋炕墊

The cover is of characteristic rectangular form finely embroidered overall in Peking knot in shades of silvery blue, magenta and brown, on an ivory-coloured ground. The centre is decorated with a large medallion featuring a many-petalled stylized lotus blossom,  surrounded by four bats with musical stones, amid dense scrolling lotus and further smaller bats. Enclosing this medallion is a large rectangular field decorated in a similar palette, with scrolling lotus and other flowers interspersed with the ba bao, the attributes of the Eight Immortals. Outside this is a broad border similarly decorated but with the addition of geometric scrollwork in blue and pink. 

It is perhaps not surprising that the fineness of the seedlike embroidery on textiles like the present one should have caused much interest, but along with it has come considerable confusion about the nomenclature of such stitches. Traditionally called ‘Peking knot’ in the West, it is also called ‘forbidden stitch’ (supposedly from the idea that it was forbidden to young girls as it would cause eyestrain, or because it was restricted to the imperial palace), or ‘French knot’. The general term for such stitches is ‘seed stitch’ and this is also the term generally used in China.  The kang was a large raised platform that could be heated from below. In northern China, during the long winter months, the kang would be the centre of the house, and would also be used as a sleeping platform. Textiles like the present one would have fitted over a large cushion covering the top of the kang.

Dimensions: Dimensions: 238 x 132.5 cm; 93 ¾ x 52 ¼ inches

Date: Qing dynasty (1644 -1911), 19th century

Stock No. 2076

Price: On Request