Embroidered calligraphic panels
|Title||Embroidered calligraphic panels|
|Period||Qing dynasty (1644–1911), late 19th or early 20th century|
|Dimensions||upper scroll 169 x 41 cm; lower scroll 169.5 x 40.8 cm|
|Collection||University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU|
|Provenance||Gift of James W. C. Hong|
The couplet on this panel was written by the Qing dynasty official and calligrapher Weng Tonghe (1830–1904). Embroidered in silk threads against a beige background, the text reads:
yun zheng shan gu xiu
(‘steaming clouds rising from the hills display the spirit and resonance of graceful mountains’)
hua yun shu shen nong
(‘flowers nourish luxuriant trees’)
[the art name of Weng Tonghe]
Born in Changsu, Jiangsu province into a family of means, Weng became a jinshi (a recipient of the highest and final degree in the imperial examinations of Imperial China) civil service candidate in 1856, and served as the Grand Secretary and instructor of the Tongzhi (r. 1861–74) and Guangxu (r. 1875–1908) Emperors.
To better capture the delicate shading of Weng’s brushwork, the weaver has used the taozhen (‘long-and-short stitch’) technique, in which a fluid and natural colouration is achieved by offsetting adjacent rows of stitches with fine silk threads split into four or five strands each. This technique was often used on embroidered paintings or calligraphy to vividly depict flora and fauna, as well as Chinese characters. Two of Weng’s seals in red-coloured threads, including ‘Weng Tonghe’ and his courtesy name ‘shuping’, are reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy.