Qian Family's Wardrobe

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Anon (2017). Qian Family’s Wardrobe: Costume Found in the Tomb of Qian Shang (1486-1505) and his Wife, Hangzhou: China National Silk Museum, softback, 122 pp., fully illustrated in colour, in Chinese and English. Price: c. €7.

This is a catalogue to an exhibition held at the China National Silk Museum between September and November 2017. Many of the items on display came from the museum’s collection. The booklet contains a minimum of written information, but numerous illustrations, line drawings and reconstructions of designs. It was in 2012 that the joint tomb of Qian Shang and his wife were excavated at the crossing of the Ximei Road and Hongshan Road, Hongsheng, near Wuxi (Jiangsu) in eastern China. The burial dates to the Ming Dynasty. In 2014 the textiles from the burial were sent to the National Silk Museum for conservation and analysis. The exhibition and accompanying booklet describe the process of identifying the types of textiles used for the various garments and the nature of the many garments that were preserved.

The garments are regarded as being typical costumes of the Ming Dynasty for a wealthy, but not royal, family. The textiles included plain and decorative silk, cotton  and hemp  forms, which were used for jackets, short gowns, trousers, skirts, socks, shoes (including a pair of lotus shoes) and scarves as well as pillows and bags. Some of the garments were actually on the bodies, while others had been placed in the tomb. The booklet is basically about the garments and their cut. As a result there are numerous patterns given to explain the size, shape and final forms of the jackets.

Recommendation: This booklet will be of use to anyone working within the field of historical Chinese garments, especially those from the Ming period. It provides information about the cut and appearance of late fifteenth century garments worn by a known man and woman.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

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