China Silk Museum
The China Silk Museum is in Hangzhou, on a hill called jade?Spring Mountain that lies at the southern end of the lake. Including the grounds, the Museum covers an area of 73 mou and the building space covers 12,000 square meters. The complex of buildings is somewhat fan-shaped, or curved like a bow. A statue of the legendary god of silkworms stands in front. The 6,100 square meters of exhibition space inside the Museum are divided into the Silk Culture Hall, the People's Customs Hall, the Silkworm and Mulberry Hall, the Silk Manufacture Hall, the Silkweaving Hall, the Printing and Dying Hall, and the Modern Accomplishments Hall.
The first thing that greets the visitor in the entry hall to the museum is a large model of a Song-dynasty loom. Around its base is reproduced a Song-dynasty painting that depicts mulberry raising and silk weaving. The original of this painting is more than five meters long and was done by a court artist for the emperor. Through linked-painting technique, it systematically portrays the entire process of making silk, from planting mulberries and raising silkworms to unraveling the silk from cocoons and weaving cloth.
The Silk Culture Hall exhibits a large number of ancient silk artifacts, as well as models and photographs. Articles from the neolithic period include certain items from more than 4,700 years and even a dyed piece of silk woven fabric from more than 5,600 years ago. Woven silk pieces excavated from the Jiangling Mashan Chu Tomb in Hubei Province show the high level of weaving technology during the Warring States period.
By the Han period, the development of Chinese silk weaving had reached its first peak. The fabric excavated from the #1 Tomb at Mawangdui that is exhibited here is extraordinary. It lay underground for more than 2,000 years and yet is still as lustrous and beautiful today as it was when it was buried.
During the Tang dynasty, silk weaving entered a period of innovation due to extensive east-west cultural exchange. The pieces excavated from a group of tombs at Astana in Turfan, Xinjiang, exhibit the artistic style of those times. Printing-on-silk technology was highly developed during the Tang period. All of the printing technology methods that we have today were already in existence at the time of the Tang dynasty and some of these are exhibited here.
Woven silk fabrics in the Song and Yuan dynasties include numerous weaving techniques that are both complex and very beautiful. Weaving with gold came to be one of the more refined techniques and some pieces are displayed that were excavated from a site in Inner Mongolia. Silk brocades were used in the Song and Yuan periods but were most vibrant in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Exhibited here are a number of brocade items that were worn by emperors, empresses, and senior officials.
The Silkworms and Mulberry Hall exhibits the entire process of cultivating silkworms. On display are materials about some live mulberry trees in China that are over one thousand years old. The life cycle of a silkworm is shown, and specimens from around the country are on display. One can watch the birth and growth of the little worm, the way it spits out the silk and creates its own cocoon and the way that cocoon is then unwound to create silk threads. The Silk Production Hall gives the history of the tools of the trade. The Weaving Hall displays all kinds of traditional looms and allows visitors to actually sit at a loom and try for themselves. The Dying Hall has specimens of many kinds of plants and minerals that were used in traditional dyes. Nearby is also a small botanical garden that raises some of the plants used for these dyes. In addition to displaying the processes of dying, printing and embroidery, demonstrations are given by masters on the spot of the various techniques.
More Museums in Zhejiang Province