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Costumes in Memory

Start Date 15 March 2019
End Date 05 May 2019
Venue China National Silk Museum
Location Hangzhou, China

Sino-Korean Joint Conservation Project of Ming Dynasty Textiles

Sponsor: China National Silk Museum, Korean National University of Cultural Heritage

Co-organizer: Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, Jiaxing Museum

In November 2006, the People’s Government of Wangdian Town, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Provenance discovered an ancient tomb while leveling the mound, named as Lijiafen. Jiaxing Municipal Administration of Culture organized a rescue excavation of the tomb. The tomb was identified as a joint tomb of Li Xiang, Wenlinlang (an administrative level of officials) in the middle and late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and his wife and two concubines. Large quantities of textile objects were discovered on site, including a considerable number of silk costumes.

Emergency protection and conservation treatments were carried out on the group of silk costumes by China National Silk Museum (NSM).NSM. The costumes unearthed from the tomb of Xu, Li Xiang’s concubine, were conserved by the NSM and Korea National University of Cultural Heritage. In the meantime, NSM and Korea National university of Cultural Heritage respectively made the replicas of a gown of Xu. In addition, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and NSM successfully reproduced the shape of several costumes unearthed from Xu’s tomb.

Wangdian, historically known as Meili, was a industrial town of silk production sprang up in the Ming Dynasty. As the saying goes, “the prosperity of silk industry in Meili is not inferior to Wuxing”. Li Xiang belonged to the local Li clan in Meixi, which was an established family in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The exhibition mainly displays silk costumes unearthed from the tombs of the Li family in Meixi, which catches a glimpse of the prosperity of silk industry in Wangdian in the Ming Dynasty. Meanwhile, through demonstrating the two parties’ repair and restoration technique operated in this batch of costumes, a better understanding of the costumes’ replication techniques is provided, which may also assist contemporary people in comprehending the fashion design methods and manufacturing technique of that time.

The exquisite silk weaving technique, fantastic patterns and skilled works are stunning to people today. The beautiful costumes damaged in the vicissitude of hundreds of years are now restored and reproduced by experienced conservators and skilled craftsmen. The treatments help to extend the longevity of the textile relics while historical manufacturing technique of costumes is unveiled, inherited and promoted.

The treatments executed on the costumes unearthed from the M4 Tomb in Wangdian were all based on studies of ancient textile and traditional techniques of costumes, which largely extend the longevity of the textile objects. As for the replica project, it recognizes and reproduces the glamourous textile manufacturing techniques of the Ming Dynasty, which facilitates the preservation and heritage of the culture.

As a part of the cooperation results, the exhibition is held to enhance communication and cooperation while presenting what NSM and the Korean Heritage group have both achieved. One of the aims of the exhibition is to provide traditional-costume-enthusiasts with knowledges in exquisite details basing on material artefacts and a broad platform for effective communication.