Dragons Chasing Flaming Pearls


1200s or earlier
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

The metal thread used in this weaving is fabricated from very thin strips of parchment with applied gold and silver leaf that are then wound around a core of yellow silk.


This rectangular, reversible tapestry (kesi) fragment, woven with silk and metal thread on a deep purple ground, is a section from yardage likely intended for a garment, but no contemporary paintings exist to confirm this. A selvage edge remains on the left; having an extant selvage edge provides us with information about the loom on which this textile was woven. The design motif of this kesi—dragons chasing flaming pearls—is Chinese. But the form of the dragons and the way they are crowded together is not Chinese. Rather than animals and birds among flowers, a frequently occurring pattern in the decorative art of eastern Central Asia that long predated the Mongol conquest, here the dragons are chasing flaming pearls. This deviation is indicative of the powerful influence of the Mongols.
Dragons Chasing Flaming Pearls

Dragons Chasing Flaming Pearls

1200s or earlier

Central China, 13th century or earlier

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