You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Clothing > Silk

Famous Brocades in China

Cloud Brocade

This kind of brocade looks like colorful clouds, hence the name cloud brocade. Both high-quality silk and exquisite skills are required to produce this cloud effect. From the Yuan to the Ming dynasties (1271-1644), cloud brocades were used mostly for imperial clothing.

Dai Brocade

Made of either cotton or silk, the Dai brocade is a product of the Dai minority. Since early in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the Dai have produced muslin, a kind of cotton cloth. The cotton brocade uses naturally colored yarn to make a smooth cloth. When making silk brocades, the Dai usually dye the silk red or black before weaving it into brocades.

Dong Brocade

This is the brocade of the Dong minority. Like the Dai brocade, it can be made of either cotton yarn or silk, or a combination of the two materials. Dong brocades are distinguished by their patterns, which are mainly of flora, fauna, and Chinese characters. Dong brocades are commonly used to make children's sleeveless garments, quilt facings (coverings), or scarves.

Li Brocade

Produced by the Li minority living on South China's Hainan Island Province, this brocade is mainly used to make women's tube-shaped skirts and bags as well as other clothing products. Woven of cotton yarn and silk thread, the Li brocade was called "Li cloth" or "Li curtain" during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

Lu Brocade

Mainly produced by people in the south and the north of East China's Shandong Province, the Lu brocade is distinguished by its bright colors and strong textures. In the 1980s, the Lu brocade experienced a strong revival as it became adapted to the needs of modern life.

Miao Brocade

Produced by the Miao minority, this kind of brocade is popular in Guiding of Southwest China's Guizhou Province . As decoration, it is used to ornament the collars, fronts, and sleeves of women's garments. It is also used as a material for everyday costumes and quilts.

Sichuan Brocade

Sichuan brocade was first produced in Chengdu of Southwest China's Sichuan Province during the Han Dynasty. It became the primary kind of traditional silk brocade. After Sichuan became linked to Middle China, its brocade-making skills were spread throughout China. Sichuan brocade flourished during the Tang (618-907), Song, and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, with more designs, patterns, and colors being used.

Especially during the Tang Dynasty, Sichuan produced a large quantity of very high quality silken goods. The magnum opus (greatest work) of this period included patterns of bundles of flowers, red lions, and the Chinese phoenix.

Yao Brocade

The history of Xiangzhou records that the Yao brocade originated from the Yao minority. Yao brocades are widely used by Han people as dowry when young women are married. The main patterns of Yao brocades are of flora, fauna, and geometrical shapes. This brocade is woven of dyed yarn or silk thread.

While marriage is obviously a festive occasion, not all brocades are suitable for festive occasions. In some places, brocades of different colors suggest different emotions. In Quanxiu of South China's Guangxi Autonomous Region, red brocades suggest happiness and are propitious (favorable), while orange or green brocades suggest mourning and sadness.

Suzhou Brocade

Produced in Suzhou of East China's Jiangsu Province, this was once the most famous brocade in China. The art of making Suzhou brocades was lost at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but was soon revived at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Suzhou brocades are characterized by harmonious colors and geometrical patterns. The brocades are classified according to size. Big brocades, also called heavy brocades, are mainly used as mounted pictures or for large decorations, while small brocades are used to decorate small articles.

Zhuang Brocade

Produced in Guangxi, this is the brocade of the Zhuang minority. The Zhuang brocade is produced on a weaving machine operated by one woman. It uses silk down (short and soft hair of silk) and locally produced silk threads to make articles such as quilt facings, tablecloths, and scarves. The patterns of Zhuang brocades are mainly of figures, flora, fauna, and geometrical shapes.

Tang Dynasty Brocade

In the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the silk industry was very much developed and there were a great variety of silk products, of which brocade was the most famous one. Artisans usually started to weave patterns on brocade vertically before the Tang Dynasty. They began to widely adopt the method of coloring the brocade horizontally and created the technique of weaving two to three horizontal layers over and around the vertical lining, forming a novel style of brocade craft.

Tang Dynasty brocade is characterized by refined technics, flowery colors, varied patterns and elegant styles. In terms of patterns and lines, it widely absorbed merits of the brocade patterns of Central Asian countries and India as well as those of the ethnic minorities in China based on the inherited characteristics of the brocade in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), greatly extending the subject matters and creating more novel styles.

The decorative patterns on brocade of the Tang Dynasty mainly included symmetrical patterns, geometrical patterns, patterns of scattered flowers, and floral medallion designs, etc. Besides, there was the sketchy type bundle flowering lining brocade. The brocade with these patterns featured plumpy modeling, bright colors and elegance.

Tang Dynasty brocade was a treasure of Chinese ancient silk crafts. Among the brocade products of that period, those unearthed in Tarim Basin and Turfan of Xinjiang in western China are the finest in quality and greatest in numbers.

Gold-Wefted Brocade

Nashishi, also called Gold-Wefted Brocade, is a kind of silk embroidery woven with flat or round gold threads and it is regarded a typical representative of the silk weaving craft of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Brocade with big areas of golden decorative patterns was very popular in the Yuan Dynasty. This was because wearing clothes made of gold-wefted brocade was the custom and hobby of the Manchu nationality and the rulers of that period greatly promoted the practice to show the wealth and magnificence.

The rulers of the Yuan Dynasty even gathered together brocade artisans several times and set up special bureaus for production of Gold-Wefted Brocade to meet the requirements of the royal court, lieges and government officials. Nashishi featured compactness of woven lines and orderliness of jacquard weave. It demonstrated the outstanding weaving skills in the Yuan Dynasty and at the same time laid the foundation for the more complicated gold-wefted craft in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The gold-wefted brocade shawl for Buddhists was made in the Yuan Dynasty, and it is 43 centimeters long. With refined woven lines, orderly jacquard woven patterns and lustrous decorative patterns, the shawl is a rare elaborate works of Nashishi made in the Yuan Dynasty. It is now kept in the Palace Museum. 

- Silk and Chinese Culture

Silk and Chinese Art
Silk and Stamp, Printing, and Engraving
Silk and Ancient Chinese Rites
Silk and Painting
Silk and Chinese Literature

- Elaborate Silk Works

The Four Famous Embroideries of China
Famous Brocades in China
Cut Silk (Kesi)
Gu Embroidery
Hair Embroidery
Cross-stitch Embroidery Art
Beijing Silk Figurines

Quick Navigation

New Article