Silk Tapestry: Sukhāvatī (The Pure Land)

Suzhou Manufactory

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum

This large tapestry entitled Sukhāvatī (The Pure Land) features a Buddhist scene of the paradise of bliss—which refers to attaining enlightenment—woven with polychrome silk thread. Despite the large scale of the work, both the tapestry itself and the decorative edging on the mounting at the top and at the bottom reveal superb artistry. Wefts in nineteen colors were used in the weaving process. Although the dominant tones—including red, blue, green, orange, pale-red, and brown—present a sharp contrast with the mineral-blue ground, the contrast of color is softened by the use of colors of lighter shades at the intersection of contrasting colors and outlines of ink. The weaver also adopted techniques for a gradual color change of three or four shades with lighter colors used toward the borders of the work and deeper hues toward the center. Similar colors with a variety in lightness were used as gradient tones: for example, wood-red and pink were used to match pale red; dark blue and light blue for jade-white; and yellow and brown for beige. Different tones of gold thread were used to embellish key features, such as figures' heads or architectural ornaments, in order to highlight the theme of the painting. Splendid and luxuriant patterns are perfectly combined with deep, subdued background colors. The images of an earthly atmosphere and divine manifestations are blended to create a vivid scene in this portrayal of the Pure Land, which is revered in the spiritual pursuits of religious adherents.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Silk Tapestry: Sukhāvatī (The Pure Land)
  • Creator: Suzhou Manufactory
  • Physical Dimensions: length: 488 cm, width: 196.3 cm
  • Provenance: Qing imperial collection
  • Type: textile
  • Medium: silk