The Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum(C.E.M.) at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, Korea, was inaugurated in 2004 with the goal of advancing public knowledge and appreciation of embroidery and the textile arts. The museum’s director, Dr. Young Yang Chung, is a master embroiderer, textile historian, writer, curator, and teacher. It is a museum specializing in embroidery, a significant cultural heritage, housing a broad collection of embroidery work and textiles.

The Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum are numerous activities in collecting, exhibiting and conducting surveys and research related to embroidery and textile relics of East Asia.

Threads of Splendor
The CEM collection outlines the development of embroidery techniques, costume forms, and decorative motifs in China, as well as the adoption and transformation of these cultural patterns by peoples across East Asia. The study of these embroideries deepens understanding of East Asian history, art, and culture, and viewed comparatively they illustrate great cohesion throughout East Asia while also highlighting the distinctiveness of local expressions in regional styles and aesthetic preferences. 

Masterpieces from various cultures and time periods tell us the millennia-long story of East Asian embroidery and its ongoing relevance in today’s world.

Collection highlights
Dragon Robe
The dragon represented the foremost symbol of temporal power throughout East Asia. Probably used originally as a totemic symbol, the dragon came to be viewed as a bringer of rain, a highly favorable association among agricultural peoples. In the late dynastic period, the highest-ranking members of society wore dragon-patterned robes as symbols of their social status, so the creation of these garments required the highest quality of materials and workmanship.

The ethnically Chinese Ming rejected the tight-fitting clothing preferred by their horse-riding Mongol predecessors, and returned to the flowing, wide-sleeved Chinese style robes of the Han, Tang, and Song dynasties.

The dragon robe's narrow sleeves with horsehoof cuffs reflect nomadic, non-Chinese traditions.

The rising water on the bottom portion of the robe was woven with gold thread, making fine creases. Among the waves is a vase holding a trident, a pattern signifying the wish for a three-rank promotion in the government.

Court costume thus was divided into winter and summer wear. Summer dragon robes were made of transparent gauze, allowing sufficient ventilation.

As a practical measure, areas that received the greatest wear were reinforced: silk patches were attached to the cuffs of the sleeves, and the collar was made of two-ply silk.

Among the 'precious jewels' depicted between the 'standing water(入水)' at the hem of the robe are a rhinoceros horn, symbolizing victory; a diamond shape, representing endurance; and the 'wheel of law', and emblem of life and death, expressing wishes for immortality.

In the East Asian tradition, dragons are viewed as divine mythical creatures that bring abundance, prosperity and good fortune. Dragon were thought to create clouds, govern rain, and to be able to transform their own size and length at will.

East Asian and Manchu Robes
By the Ming and Qing dynasties, the forms, patterns, and colors of garments allowed the various social classes to be strictly delineated by imperial statutes. During this period, the art of silk embroidery achieved its pinnacle of technical refinement after many thousands of years of development, and China’s most accomplished embroiderers expended their greatest effort on the creation of robes and furnishings for the aristocracy. Chinese ideas regarding the social function of costume decoration as well as the forms, motifs, and techniques utilized in Chinese court costume spread to the neighboring regions receptive to the influence of Chinese civilization, such as Korea and Vietnam, and became firmly established among these non-Chinese peoples.

Chinese and Manchu women's informal robes were often lavishly ornamented with auspicious and symbolic imagery, and among the most popular motifs were naturalistic depictions of seasonal flowers.

Although bufu (patch garments) were worn at the court of the first Qing emperor, costume regulations issued in 1759 required all courtiers to wear dark blue or black bufu over their brilliantly colored polychrome semiformal robes. Typically fitted with an insignia badge on the front and back, the bufu focused the viewer's attention on the wearer's rank rather than the opulence of his dragon robe.

This theatrical robe represents an exaggerated version of a woman's wedding costume, including an elaborate cloud collar, red jacket, and pleated skirt. Chinese opera utilized little background scenery and few stage sets, so audience attention focused on the colorful costumes of the actors.

Mongolian woman's robe
The basic garment for Mongolian men and women was the del, a long robe with an over flap in the front. This del provides an example of a formal robe worn by married woman of the Khalkha tribe. The distinctively sculpted shoulders are created by inserting a bamboo or willow twig into the top of the pleated sleeve.
Ottoman Turkish Robe
When the Ottoman Turks conquered the Byzantine empire in the 14th and 15th centuries, they inherited a sericulture and silkweaving industry that had been producing luxury silks for over a thousand years. Under the Ottoman patronage, textile artists developed a distinctive style that combined elements of Turkish ornaments with influences from Persia, Italy, China, and other sources. 

Kimono rank among the most beautiful and expressive manifestations of Japanese textile art.

The decorative pattern on this wedding robe was largely created by dyeing and painting on the base fabric. Throughout East Asia, textile artists sought to express auspicious wishes for the bridal couple through the ornament of wedding robes. Through a deft intermingling of needle and brush, this robe depicts cranes and pine trees, widely recognized symbols of immortality throughout East Asia, in a naturalistic landscape setting.

East Asian Costume Accessories 
During the Qing dynasty, fashionable men wore belts from which they suspended numerous small decorative bags holding fans, eyeglasses, chopsticks, incense, knives, watches, money, and other small personal objects. Although the Chinese had carried small purses and scent bags for millennia, the wearing of belts fitted with practical utensils stemmed from nomadic traditions initially introduced by the Liao, Mongols, and Uighurs and then popularized by the Manchus. These costume accessories became prominent status symbols, and by the late Qing period, they were created in matched sets, typically embroidered with auspicious imagery.

The tasseled pendant densely embroidered on both sides with over 100 seed stitches per square centimeter, depicts a white elephant carrying the almsboul of the Buddha on its back.

This type of hat, with a highly upturned brim symbolizing the crown and the hanging decoration attached to the back, was worn by married men and women of the Khalkha tribe during festive and formal occasions.

The Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum
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The Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum, Sookmyung Women's University

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