Early 19th century
Jiaqing - Daoguang Period, Qing Dynasty
Length: 163.4 cm / 64.3 in, Width: 82 cm / 32.3 in
From the estate of Mrs. Joseph E. (Catherine Abbot) Johnson, of Lynchburg VA. This banner was brought back from a 1917 business trip to China by Mr. Johnson's parents.
A huge and magnificent imperial wall hanging or tapestry, depicting five-clawed dragons against a ground of clouds, auspicious bats, and buddhist treasures; all on top rolling waves crashing against rocks.
Unlike embroidered fabrics, designs in kesi are directly woven into the fabric, making the endeavor challenging and time-consuming; it is an art lost to us today. Imperial kesi fragments can command huge prices. A Daoguang period kesi roundel, measuring only 30 cm in diameter, was sold for $11,423 at Christie's London (sale 8833 lot 1451; see picture).
Condition: Generally good antique condition. The silk is fragile with age, and there are areas where the threads have come loose, and areas where the thread is thinning or missing. Overall the fabric is intact with no repairs. There are also some water stains (see pictures). The kesi is supported in the back by a strong muslin fabric. One section to the top left appears to be attached from a separate but related fabric. [Please examine all photos carefully, as they are part of the condition report.]