Gathering of immortals | China | Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 18th century | Kesi (silk tapestry) with metallic threads, hanging scroll | 124.8 x 61.5 cm | Gift of Dr Lam Kwok Pun | HKU.T.2004.1671

Gathering of immortals

TitleGathering of immortals
PeriodQing dynasty (1644–1911), 18th century
MediumSilk tapestry (kesi) with metallic threads, panel
Dimensions124.8 x 61.5 cm
CollectionUniversity Museum and Art Gallery, HKU
ProvenanceGift of Dr Lam Kwok Pun

Over thirty Daoist immortals, such as Shoulao (the God of Longevity), the Eight Immortals, Hehe Immortals and Magu, the Goddess of Longevity, adorn these scrolls, along with auspicious mythical creatures such as qilins and phoenixes. A group of immortals is shown surrounded by two trees bearing abundant xiantao, accompanied by waves and clouds. Various weaving techniques create the vivid imagery of the second hanging scroll. In order to highlight the figures’ silhouettes, the gou (‘connecting’) technique was used to outline the robes, while the rocks and ocean waves were woven with the changduanqiang (‘long-and-short propping’) technique. This process employs various long and short, light- and dark-coloured wefts that offset each other to create a fluid and natural colouration. Another similar method known as mushuqiang (‘wood comb propping’), in which wefts of similar tones are woven into a comb-like edge pattern, creates the reddish pink xiantao.

Kesi showing gatherings of immortals were popular among the upper-class in the Qing dynasty because of their auspicious connotations of longevity and prosperity. They were typically displayed indoors or exchanged between scholars as gifts.