Silk Book Wrapper
China, 18th-19th century
Gallery 13, Chinese Silk exhibition (runs to 27 June)


Focus on the Object

The Object of the Month is a fine example of the yellow silk wrappers used to protect books and scrolls in the Qing imperial library. Two dragons wind themselves around to create the central motif, enclosed by a triple border. The flowers in each corner complete the encirclement.

The imperial library contained a great many books, scrolls and manuscripts and this required these squares of embroidered yellow silk to be produced in large quantities. The dimensions and the dragon design were standard but there were variations in the flower and border decoration. These differences suggest that that the wrappers were in use for a sufficiently long period of time, possibly up to the early twentieth century, that replacements were required and so slight variations in the border design of new batches occurred.