Longevity banners commemorating the 70th birthday of Xu Yingkui
|Title||Longevity banners commemorating the 70th birthday of Xu Yingkui|
|Period||Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 1900|
|Medium||Silk with metallic threads|
|Dimensions||293.5 x 145.5 cm; 302 x 147.3 cm|
|Collection||University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU|
|Provenance||Gift of Dr Hui Wai Haan|
A pair of longevity banners were presented to Xu Yingkui (1830–1903), the Qing Governor-General of Fujian and Zhejiang, to commemorate his seventieth birthday in 1900. He was well-known in China for concluding the ‘Mutual Protection of Southeast China’ (dongnan hubao) agreement with other provincial governors and high-ranking officials, such as Zhang Zhidong (1837–1909) and Liu Kunyi (1830–1902). This agreement declared the neutrality of Southeast China in the war between the court of Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) and the Eight-Nation Alliance of foreign powers during the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901).
Each of the banners feature a large golden shou (longevity) character that was first embroidered with images of various Daoist immortals stitched onto a red satin ground.
The colourfully shaded bats around the shou character were embroidered using a technique called qiangzhen (‘encroaching satin stitch’), in which short straight stitches were embroidered layer upon layer, resulting in a shading of colours that move from light to dark. Embroidered silk banners like these were often used to decorate interiors during birthday or wedding banquets, or as wall hangings in temple lecture halls.