Table Frontal (China), 18th century
This is a Table frontal. It is dated 18th century and we acquired it in 1958. Its medium is silk, metallic yarns and its technique is plain weave with discontinuous wefts (tapestry or kesi). It is a part of the Textiles department.
Table frontals were used on numerous types of Chinese tables: altar tables, dining tables, and magistrate’s desks. They covered the fronts, sides and legs of tables, and often coordinated with a set of matching chair covers. Such furnishings made furniture more flexible: the decoration could be adjusted for the season, the type of festivity, and the user’s rank. This frontal is tapestry woven in colored silk and gold threads, and edged with brocade trim embellished with Buddhist emblems. An overhanging top cotton cloth would have been used to secure it to the table.
This frontal is heavily ornamented with imperial iconography. The lower section features imagery similar to that found on imperial dragon robes, with lishui waves and rocks and dragons highlighted in gold thread. The top section features roundels with dragons and phoenixes. In addition to these imperial symbols, the top section also includes two human figures associated with seasonal flowers, located on both sides of the dragon pair. The famous Tang poet Meng Haoran (c.689-740) appears on the right with a wooden staff and a servant boy in front of wintry plum blossom trees, the flower of the first month. On the left, the famous beauty Xi Shi (b.506 bce) appears holding a white lotus branch, the flower of the sixth month.
This object was
Alice Baldwin Beer.
It is credited
Gift of Mrs. A. Philippe Von Hemert.
Its dimensions are
H x W: 148 x 141.9 cm (58 1/4 x 55 7/8 in.)
Cite this object as
Table Frontal (China), 18th century; silk, metallic yarns; H x W: 148 x 141.9 cm (58 1/4 x 55 7/8 in.); Gift of Mrs. A. Philippe Von Hemert; 1958-69-1