Thursday, 12 January 2012

Shanghai's Museum of Textiles and Looms

I was in Shanghai recently and had a chance to pop into its Textile Museum. I had the misfortune to forget the decent camera and the one on my phone (along with my phone) gave out after the second floor, so there aren't exactly a plethora of good photos (excellent writeup with photos of the later floors on the blog, We Drive East).

The lady to the right is Huang Daopo 黄道婆 who seemed to have been one of the founding lights of the textile industry in thirteenth century China. It's actually almost refreshing to see a figure celebrated like that, but then, I've probably read far too many pseudohistorical and fantasy books where and interest in embroidery or textiles is portrayed as a useless "feminine" frippery.

The exhibition gets a lot better as one progresses to the later floors. Perhaps unsurprisingly, little survives from dynasties before the Qing and what there is doesn't end up in this particular museum. But still, there is something very odd about having a glass display case solemnly filled with photographs of costumes instead of, well, costumes.

To the right is a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) rank badge, though only a replica of one. It is of brocade rather than embroidery, which is interesting. I suppose this is where I link to the rank badge I embroidered for the steampunk magistrate outfit last year.

Also interesting is this timeline of textile technology that I came across when looking up links for this blogpost. It's a nice overview, though obviously I'd advise going to look up something more authoritative if you're using it for anything.

Under the cut are a few more photos from the museum and a few ramblings.

Brocade for the Emperor's Robe (replica), Ming Dynasty

Brocade for Emperor's Golden Dragon Robe (replica) Ming/Qing and diagram for how it fits together (apparently)
Of course, when you're Emperor, getting purpose-made brocade for your outfits isn't really a problem. Which is intriguing, I suppose, since when you're trying to replicate this effect nowadays, you pretty much have to settle for joining two different bits of brocade together.

For some reason, Swarovski paid for this... thing. I don't really know why. That dusting of white? Crystals.

Brocade with Lions Play Ball (replica), Ming/Qing
Sometimes, the Past has no taste. I cite you this picture whenever someone claims that the Past had better taste and exudes elegance on every level. Because they made this, which is charming, but not tasteful.

"DingQiao" Drawloom
Someone inconsiderate has been meddling with the thread on most of the machines. It made trying to make sense of them rather more difficult. Which is a shame.

From what I can tell, the above is a foot-treadle loom. But it wasn't exactly labelled...

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