TYPE: A so-called “gansu kilim”

CIRCA: 1850

When describing an almost identical ink painted kilim-like tapestry in the highly recommended book Early Carpets and Tapestries on the Eastern Silk Road (by Glorian Gonick; 2015) the authour states (page 141); “The layout of the five cranes indicates this tapestry, although of fairly heavy weight and lengthy size, was designed to be worn as a costume, wrapped around the body, the largest crane placed at the center to the wearers back”. The book goes on to state / prove that these kilim-like tapestries were originally woven and hand painted by Uyghur migrants from Xinjiang that had settled in Gansu Province, China in the first millennium. (Also see a more elaborate example as Plate 17 in the book Chinese and Exotic Rugs by Murray Eiland, although at the time of publication -1979 – their origins were unknown – to him.) However, by the 18th  century (1700’s) these migrants had began to migrate further east along the Yellow River and hand-painting also gave way to the use woodblock printing in the field design. This piece, although shortened at the bottom, still vividly displays the wood block print designs scattered throughout the natural reddish-grey undyed wools of the main-field, which is adorned by five Manchurian cranes – as described above – which are woven into the tapestry / kilim itself. Over time the woodblock print designs have faded in many of these pieces, but their impressions on this piece still remain strong. Overall in good condition save for a fraying of the edges in a short length of one side, and the missing stripes at the bottom. Although the weave is heavy enough that it could be used / displayed on the floor, this piece would be more suited to be wall-hung as a decorative item. Whatever one chose to do with it, it is a stunning display piece with the woodblock print designs remaining prominent.

SIZE: 2.80m x 1.15m

WARP: Cotton

WEFT: wool


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