Friday, April 09, 2010

My Gorgeous Chinese Five Clawed Dragon

I've blogged before about the enchantment of buying boxes of old textiles at auction, and then bringing them home to find out exactly what I've got. I spend plenty of time looking through these boxes on viewing day, especially when I think the price might be high, so I have to judge how much I want to spend without indulging in 'auction fever'. But every now and then, I bring something home and realise that - not only have I got a lovely collection - but I've come across something that I really want to keep. This happened to me yesterday, with what, at first glance, seemed like a nice but not especially unusual collection of old linen, lace and embroidery. I bid on it, bought it, and carried it home. Last night, I sat down to sort through it. It soon became clear that there were some wonderfully fine linens, smooth and cool - this old bleached Irish linen can feel like silk - with embroidery, cutwork and fine crochet edging. There was a little linen bag full of lace, including a piece of something so miraculously fine that I've never come across it before, but suspect it may be Alencon lace from France. There were a couple of unusual 'samplers' not the usual cross-stitch affairs, but late nineteenth century dressmaking samplers, presumably to teach young girls useful skills, like darts, buttonholes, frills, seams, cuffs etc.

And there was the dragon.

Isn't he gorgeous?

He is, I believe, a Chinese, Five Clawed Dragon, immensely lucky and - in spite of his fierce appearance - a Very Good Thing. He is in three dimensional, padded, couched, metal thread embroidery on red silk - a bit worn and damaged in places - with another two dragons above the main man.

I believe this was a Taoist altar frontal, but if anyone knows better, please do let me know. I adore Chinese and Japanese embroideries, but I have to say that they are not my speciality. I would really love to be able to make them my speciality, to research them and to find out much much more about them! Meanwhile, I think I'm going to have to keep my lovely dragon for the moment. I'll sell everything else in the box and see if I can afford him. But he needs a little restoration and preservation, so we'll just have to see.


Erna said...

Hello Catherine love your dragon.I know the samplers you mentioned, in Holland the girls made those samplers after their schoolsampler and their darningsampler.
Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog

Rosie said...

Fantastic find. I wish they had auctions here!