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Far-reaching Hunan Grace: Costumes of the Song and the Yuan in Hunan Museum

Start Date 15 May 2020
End Date 02 August 2020
Venue China National Silk Museum
Location Hangzhou, China

Sponsors: Hunan Museum, China National Silk Museum

Hunan is named after its location in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and on the south of Dongting Lake. Besides, it is named “Xiang” for short as the Xiang River, the largest one in the province, runs through. A land renowned for its lucid waters and lush mountains as well as for its generations of elites, Hunan is endowed with the characteristic tradition of humanities, science and technology, history and culture. The famous Mawangdui Tomb of the Han Dynasty in Changsha, with a large number of weaving and embroidery treasures unearthed, showcases the prosperity of ancient Chinese textile handicraft in Hunan during the Han Dynasty.

The Song and the Yuan Dynasties witnessed the high development of economy, culture and technology in Chinese history. In particular, sericulture and silk weaving experienced a climax, with major production in the Yangtze River Basin and the area to the South of the Yangtze, a complete technical system from mulberry planting and sericulture to warping, weft windering and loom weaving formed, the universal application of high-rise jacquard damask silk looms and silk gauze looms in the production and the popularity of a variety of silk products, e.g. silk, satin, brocade and gauze.

The exhibition, with a large number of textile costumes unearthed in Hejiazao Tomb of the Northern Song and Huarong Tomb of the Yuan, showcases the grace and charm of the ancients of the Song and Yuan in their patterns and styles of costumes.

Part I World of Flowers and Birds
As the imperial painting academy of the Song advocated the fashion of sketching flowers and birds, the silk patterns turned from creatures in the heaven to plants and flowers on the earth, therefore, there was a trendy prevalence of the patterns of plucked branches and intertwining flowers, and thin, translucent satins became perfect for the expression of such a refreshing style.

Part II Textile Costumes and Shoes
The costumes at the turn of the Song and the Yuan Dynasties basically followed the style of the Song, with the tube tops, straight-necked shirts, square-piece skirts, open and closed crotch pants, and shoes with curling toe caps being the daily attire of ladies then. The excavation of a complete series of costumes from the Huarong Tomb of the Yuan was significant and valuable in that it demonstrated the textile, costume art and social life of the time.