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Embroidered Red Hall Curtain with Phoenix and Peony Design

Qing Dynasty (1636—1912AD)

Width: 404cm; Height: 74cm

A hall curtain, also called a festive holiday curtain, hanging in a residential hall, is a piece of common embroidery used in sacrifice and celebration. The curtain, with height from 70cm to 80 cm and width more than 300cm, looks magnificent.

The hall curtain is characterized by the decoration of phoenixes, peonies, pheasants, birds, pomegranates, grapes, lotus and butterflies with gold and silver thread against red satin.

The bottom of the curtain is edged with a line of Panchang pattern (a Chinese traditional auspicious pattern) and peony pattern, symbolizing long-term prosperity.

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Motifs and their Symbolism in Chinese Embroidery

The motifs or designs often seen in Chinese embroidery often carry their special meanings. The Chinese enjoy puns and plays on words, and often designs were used if their verbal sounds or written characters were similar to a character or virtue.

Phoenix and peony

In Chinese legend, phoenix is known as “king of birds” while peony is “king of flowers”. The combination of phoenix and peony symbolizes prosperity, bright future and happiness. People often use the decorations with the motifs of phoenix and peony and wish they will bring good luck to them.

Pheasant

Pheasant is often depicted standing on a rock in the sea, facing the sun. It is sometimes used in place of the Phoenix, and as such, is considered an emblem of beauty and good fortune.

Dragon

The five-toed dragon is reserved for the Emperor and his heirs, four-toed for court officials, three-toed for lesser nobility. It is the emblem of strength, goodness and safeguard, and when used in tandem with the ax and pheasant, judicial powers of the court are implied.