Silks and Flowing Patterns. Chinese and Japanese Art.

Auguste Racinet, Chinese, Japanese, Art, Ornaments, Silks, Flowing, Patterns,
Plate XIII. Chinese and Japanese Art. Silks and Flowing Patterns.




THE piece of silk, the representation of which occupies the larger portion of our plate, is one of the finest examples of the decoration of woven fabrics that it is possible to study.

Yellow – the colour which Ziegler calls the “eldest daughter of light” – forms the ground: it is the livery of the reigning dynasty of the Tai-thsing (Qing dynasty) in China. The dragons with four claws which ornament it would at once indicate to the Chinese the rank of the person for whom it was destined.

“The emperor.” says M. Jacquemart (Merveilles de la céramique), “his sons, and the princes of the first and second rank, take as their symbol a dragon with five claws The princes or the third and fourth rank have the same dragon with four claws; whilst those of the fifth rank and the mandarins have for their emblem merely a serpent with four claws, called Mang.”

It may be noticed in this fabric that the effect is obtained, not by gradations of tints, but by strong contrasts of colours, and that the white separating outlines enable the eye at once to grasp the design.

These outlines are so narrow as to be tinged by the neighbouring colours, with the exception of those surrounding the dragons, which are wider, and consequently more intense and luminous; they seem as it were, to create an atmosphere in which the monsters move.

We have endeavoured, by graduating the tint of the ground, to imitate the play of the silky fabric under the action of light.

This piece of silk covers a Chinese book in the Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

The specimen on a black ground in the lower part of the plate is Chinese; the small ones on the same ground on ether side of It and all the others are Japanese.

See: The dragon in Asian art and culture.

Source: Polychromatic ornament by Auguste Racinet. London, H. Sotheran and Co., 1877.

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Auguste Racinet. The Costume History by Françoise Tétart-Vittu.

Racinet's Costume History is an invaluable reference for students, designers, artists, illustrators, and historians; and a rich source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in clothing and style. Originally published in France between 1876 and 1888, Auguste Racinet’s Le Costume historique was in its day the most wide-ranging and incisive study of clothing ever attempted.

Covering the world history of costume, dress, and style from antiquity through to the end of the 19th century, the six volume work remains completely unique in its scope and detail. “Some books just scream out to be bought; this is one of them.” ―