Traces of pleats show that this panel of silk was originally part of a woman's gown. Although it does not contain any gold or silver thread, it would have been recognised as expensive fabric by an eighteenth century viewer, because of the complexity of its weave, with thirteen different colours making up the pattern. The colours have been brocaded.
The technique of brocading allowed different colours to be introduced into the pattern of a fabric in specific, sometimes very small areas. It was a more laborious process for the weaver than using patterning wefts running from selvedge to selvedge, but the resulting effect could be much more varied and lively.
In this silk there is an element of fantasy with plants of different scale juxtaposed, but most have been drawn to resemble real trees and flowers, including cherry blossom, rose buds, and tulips, with the variegated colouring in their petals that made them so popular with plant collectors.