Silk Tapestry of Three Deities with Qianlong Inscription

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum
Beijing, China

The silk tapestry depicts three Chinese deities, namely, Fortune, Wealth, and Longevity. Accompanied by a child, cranes, and a deer, they converse within a landscape of pine trees, peach trees, and scenic rockery. Plain, long-and-short, and interlocking stitches constitute some of the intricate techniques used to produce this work. The tapestry was embellished with embroidery to create the illusion of folds in the figures' garments and the texture of the fur and feathers. More than thirty colors of thread were used in the silk tapestry.
A four-character inscription by the Qianlong Emperor was woven at the top of the scroll. The text can be translated as "Bestowing Blessings and Increasing Life-span" (Xixian zengling). Following this four-character title, the emperor composed a long rhythmic inscription titled An Ode to Three Deities (Sanxing tu song). The work is a dense compilation of historical allusions and celebrates the three deities while showing the emperor's in his longevity. The inscription is dated 1782, the year of the emperor's seventieth birthday. The images of eight seal impressions were woven into the tapestry, including "Qianlong Imperially Inscribed" (Qianlong yubi), "The Longevity of Seventy Years" (Guxi tianzi zhi bao, also rendered more accurately as "Seal of the Son of Heaven, Rare Since Antiquity"), "Be as Diligent as Ever" (Youri zizi), "Precise Authentication Seal of the Room of Three Rarities" (Sanxi tang jingjian xi), and "For the Benefit of Later Generations" (Yi zisun).


  • Title: Silk Tapestry of Three Deities with Qianlong Inscription
  • Physical Dimensions: height: 412 cm, width: 135 cm
  • Provenance: Qing imperial collection
  • Type: textile
  • Medium: silk
  • Dynasty: Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

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