Fine Antique Imperial Chinese Red Silk Rug with Phoenixes

Circa 1870
Ningxia, Northern China
270 cm x 183 cm
8'10" x 6'0"

A very rare silk carpet, with an unusual lacquer red background decorated at the centre by a large phoenix and surrounded by four smaller phoenixes in the corners. The phoenix is the bird of the Empress and symbolises prosperity and happiness. Red represents the element of fire, the emblem of which is the phoenix. Also evocative of the summer, this red was often used in connection with festive occasions such as births and weddings. The absolute lack of chromatic gap between the field and the border, together with the latter’s decor of phoenixes connected by a thin stem alternated to leafy lotus flowers (symbols of purity), all contribute in making this a carpet of strong propitiatory significance, possibly conceived as a wedding gift to an Empress.

Antique Textile Art, n.25, p. 53

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