The most beautiful and unusual double sided kilim tapestry. 276cm x 117cm.
Featuring woven Taoist cranes and block printed decorative elements over the most astonishingly attractive ombre pink/coral/orange background. The print elements (applied to both sides) fade in and out of the background, giving the piece a painterly feel unlike any other textile we have seen. The use of so called “eccentric weft” in the tapestry allows for genuine curvilinear forms, not the approximations found in most weavings.
The origin and purpose of these textiles has been debated and disputed for many years. Being attributed as Korean by the Japanese, and Chinese “of obscure origin” to early scholars in the west. We now know they were created by Uyghar and Monguor artisans in China's Gansu province. Extensive research by art historian Gloria Gonick has established these tapestries were made not as wall hangings, but to be worn as mantles; the main motif sitting at the wearers upper back and the minor motifs at the hips and shoulders.
Condition is overall very good. The selvages are original, fraying in places but for the most part intact. The warp threads at the ends are untied/unfinished, originally there would have been a couple more stripes at the top and bottom. It has been cut down at some point probably as a result of damage to the ends. It has been professionally cleaned and the colours are strong and vibrant. There is a stain to the left edge that we have lightened but were unable to fully remove. It is similar in tone to the printed elements so doesn't detract too much. Two small areas of wear to the weft threads on the main field, (the wefts are gone but the warps are still present). Please see images, lots more here
Formerly the property of renowned theatre director Henry Kiell Ayliff (1871-1949). This is one of a pair consigned for sale by the directors granddaughter. We have the other one, but condition is poorer and we haven't yet looked at restoration options. Please let us know if you would like more information or images.
For similar examples, see Lot 140 Christies Fine European and Oriental Carpets June 2006, and Early Carpets and Tapestries of the Eastern Silk Road by Gloria Gonick.
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Antique Mongolian Gansu tapestry
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