Silk embroidery panel with flowers and ducks


British Museum

British Museum

This large piece of embroidery was found folded over and sewn into a bag or cover.The design of scrolling foliage with flowers and birds was embroidered onto floral-figured silk, backed with plain woven cream silk. Silk thread was used for the long satin stitches of the floral motifs. Subtle colour variation has been worked into the petals and leaves to suggest twists and turns. These were outlined in silver thread which has now turned black through oxidization. Only the beak, eye and upper wing of each duck was embroidered, while the rest of the bird was formed by laying thick golden thread and couching it with small stitches. At one end, the embroidery has worn away to reveal the original ink outline of the design.This is a particularly fine example of the floral motifs that were popular during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906). Meandering scrolls of flowers and birds like this were used as decoration in Chinese arts for many centuries to come.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Silk embroidery panel with flowers and ducks
  • Date Created: 800/999
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 92.00cm; Width: 23.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: woven; embroidered; couching stitch; satin stitch; damask
  • Subject: bird and flower
  • Registration number: MAS.857
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Qian Fo Dong. Excavated/Findspot
  • Period/culture: Five Dynasties;Tang dynasty
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Collected by Stein, Marc Aurel