The figured silk background superbly embroidered with coloured silks and silver-metal couched threads. Late Joseon dynasty, circa 1870-1910. Approx. 19 cms x 23 cms., one with original selvage showing, both with usual brown paper adhesions. Of Museum quality. With written Expert opinion from Linda Wrigglesworth, foremost authority on Oriental textiles, indicating that these may be of Royal status.
The technique of decorating in metal-couched (as opposed to gilded paper) threads began in the 1870s. Suk Joo-sun, in 'Yi Dynasty Upper Garment Insignia Patterns' states that metal-couched thread badges were reserved for Royal in-laws. It is known that white silk animals were worn for Royal funerals and other events of national mourning.
No other metal-couched thread military badges appear to be recorded. Amongst the many hyungbae that have survived I know of only three others decorated in this technique, all 'singles' and all showing civil rank cranes, all probably from the same atelier as the present pair, two of which are published: (a) Schuyler Cammann 'Other Mandarin Squares' (Arts of Asia magazine, March/April 1992, figure 2) and (b) Suk Joo-Sun, as before, plate 12. The third badge, very similar to (b), is in an important American collection. In view of the superb workmanship of these it is assumed that they are all the product of the same Palace-connected workshop.
Provenance: Christie's, London 1997.
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