Chinese hand-embroidered heavy silk shawl, c.1920
The design is expertly hand-embroidered on a heavy ivory silk ground. The shawl is bordered all around with hand-knotted silk fringe. The extra-large roses are magnificent! Each corner has a dramatic large rose circled with a scrolling pattern of small flowers. The butterfly above each rose is a delightful touch.
The design itself showcases the centripetal motif ("center-seeking.") Generally, one can categorize abstract and semi-abstract motifs as centripetal, centrifugal ("fleeing the center"), or balanced, i.e., without a pronounced tendency to either of the first two. In this case, each large rose serves as a local center in the design.
Can there be more than one "center"? In the strict world of mathematics, the answer is "no." In the freer world of design, the answer is "maybe" or "yes," depending on the skill of the design.
Fine hand embroidery reached the level of an art form in China long before Marco Polo arrived there in the 13th century. Chinese export goods were still very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As interest waned after the 1920s, the quality of hand work also waned. Modern copies produced in China today are generally of inferior quality found in fine shawls like this one.
The condition is excellent. It is clean and ready to use.
It measures 94" square, including the 19" wide fringe.