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Production of silk: spinning silk-threads

Anonymous19th century

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art
Hong Kong , Hong Kong

Sets of twelve paintings illustrating the respective stages in the production of tea, silk, cotton, and ceramics were popular export items in the 18th and 19th centuries. Similar in size, colour scheme, draughtsmanship and style, these sets come from an indigenous tradition of Gengzhitu, or diagrammatic pictures that represent agriculture and silk production. Portraying these industries in idyllic, harmonious, and timeless scenery, where men and women carry out tasks with almost effortless grace, these sets are far removed from the harsh realities of the workshops or the plantations where said commodities were produced. This work belongs to a similar set depicting the production of silk. Its composition and content closely follow the formula of Gengzhitu. Silk was exported in bulk from the 18th to the 19th century. In 1750 for instance, the amount of exported silk to the following countries was: Britain 5,640 bolts, France 2,530 bolts, the Netherlands 7,460 bolts. Catering to foreigners' interest in this commodity, this painting would have certainly added a nice nostalgic touch to the walls of a merchant's house.

Details

  • Title: Production of silk: spinning silk-threads
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date: 19th century
  • Theme: Silk production
  • Physical Dimensions: w49.5 x h39.5 cm
  • Location in the artwork: Canton
  • Type: Gouache on paper

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