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Past exhibition

Permanent Exhibition
Wrapping Cultures: Asian Textiles from the National Palace Museum Collection
From the swaddling clothes at birth to the wedding dress on their special day, and to the shroud at the end of life, textiles have been closely connected to our life. Throughout history, People from various cultures worldwide have created diverse textiles by utilizing local resources, adapting to different climates, and incorporating distinct lifestyles. This exhibition features a selection of Asian textiles from the National Palace Museum’s collection, comprised of three themes: “Covering and Containing,” “Decorating and Identifying,” and “Protecting and Blessing.” From the perspectives of material functions, social relationships, and spiritual symbolism, the exhibition showcases the diverse appearances and rich connotations of textiles across time and regions. Additionally, this exhibition includes an educational area with “Isle of Textiles” introducing common fiber materials and crafting techniques through the display of actual examples, magnified explanations, and tactile experiences, while "Wedding Attire" showcases traditional wedding garments from various parts of Asia, presenting the ceremonial customs and people’s wishes for a better life.

I. Covering and Containing
Textiles are produced using various fibers and techniques, and have multiple material functions. They can be used to wrap the body, providing coverage and protection. They can also be used to contain items, offering proper storage and convenience for carrying around. Moreover, they are capable of enhancing the appearance and coziness of a space, and creating a specific atmosphere.

II. Decorating and Identifying
Textiles often play an important role in decoration and identification within societies. Through the use of various materials, techniques, shapes and cuts, colors, and patterns in fabrics and garments, people not only enhance their appearance and showcase their personal style and aesthetic taste, but also provide rich visual information that signifies the wearer’s status and identity.

III. Protecting and Blessing
Across many cultures, textiles are imbued with spiritual symbolism and function. Some people believe that certain textiles possess magical powers, capable of warding off misfortune and illness, and safeguarding individuals as they pass through important stages of life, such as birth, coming of age, marriage, and death. In addition, the decorative patterns on textiles often carry auspicious meanings, representing blessings and hopes for a better future.

Korean Wedding Attire
The wedding is one of the most important days in one's life. In traditional Korean weddings, regardless of their social class, the groom would wear veiled hats, round-necked garments with belt, and black boots, while the bride would wear a vibrant and ornate traditional long robe with wide sleeves embroidered with auspicious patterns. Peonies commonly adorned the wedding scene; not only were peonies intricately embroidered onto the bride's gown, but they also graced screens, symbolizing aspirations for happiness and prosperity.
Among the many wedding rituals in traditional Korean weddings, one noteworthy tradition is 'Jeonan-rye,' in which the groom presents a wild goose to his future in-laws before the wedding. This act symbolizes his commitment to his new wife, signifying a lifetime of loyalty, mirroring the faithful pairing of geese that mate for life. In modern times, the groom gifts wooden ducks wrapped in colorful silk to the bride's family. These ducks are placed on a table at the wedding ceremony, with a ribbon tied around their beaks as a reminder that one should be a listener rather than a complainer and should provide support to their spouse.

Exhibition Information
  • Event Date Permanent Exhibition
  • Location 3F S304
Qing dynasty, 14th year of the Xuantong reign (1922)
Golden Investiture Book of Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Ronghui
Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Ronghui (1856-1933) was a member of the Manchu Bordered Blue Banner Sirin Gioro clan. She received the title 'Noble Lady Jin' from the Tongzhi Emperor (1856-1875) when she entered the Forbidden City in November 1872 at the age of 17. She continued to hold elevated positions.

After the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Emperor Xuantong (1906-1967), along with other members of the royal family, retained their noble titles. In 1922, in celebration of Emperor Xuantong's wedding, Sirin Gioro was further honored with an elevated title and was presented with this golden investiture book.
These gold plates were carefully wrapped with silk and placed inside a golden lacquer wood box. One end of the wrap is secured with a ribbon tiding a round coin inscribed with "Peace Under Heaven" in both regular Chinese script and Manchu script on either side.
India / 19-20th c.
Kashmir Shawl
Kashmir shawls possess a rich history, having been a part of sophisticated male dress at the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar (1555–1605). These shawls are made of fine and expensive pashmina wool, which comes from the soft under-hair of the Himalayan goat. These light and warm shawls can be worn as a head wrap, around the waist, or draped around the shoulders. Large Kashmir shawls are often made in sections, first woven on a narrower loom, then pieced together, embroidered with floral or paisley patterns that cover the entire shawl, lined with a checkered border, and decorated with a wool fringe.
India / 19th c.
Baluchari Sari
This wine-colored Baluchari sari is intricately woven and is known for its depictions of narrative scenes woven with gold thread. The center of this sari is adorned with paisley patterns, while the border features scenes depicting characters in Western attire on a steamboat, reflecting the lifestyle of the British colonial period in the 19th century.
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Embroidered Drawstring Pouch with Words "Double Happiness" (Shuangxi)
A drawstring pouch is a small sac people carried around for practical and decorative purposes. It was originally used to hold coins or small items, and in daily conversation, it was also commonly referred to as a wallet or personal possession. Over time, it gradually evolved into a beautifully crafted decorative accessory.
Drawstring purses embroidered with auspicious motifs are gifts that denote close friendship and intimacy. Not only would young ladies personally make and give purses to their beloved ones or friends, but during the Qing imperial court's New Year celebrations, drawstring purses were also given as presents to palace officials and members of noble families. Recipients of these gifts would wear the imperial purse on their lapel or hang it in front of their palace gates to show their appreciation for the emperor's favor.
Ming dynasty, Zhengde reign (1505-1521)
Dish with Persian Script Written in Overglaze Red
A yellow label is attached to this drawstring pouch. It reads, 'one porcelain plate with Persian writing,' in Chinese. Records from the archives of the imperial workshop indicate that the Qianlong Emperor ordered the use of floral muslin fabric to make pouches for storing exotic objects. It can be inferred that this cloth cover also adhered to the Qianlong Emperor's order.
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Silver-Gilt Pen Case with Bamboo Pens
The openwork dragon-patterned gilt silver pen case holds bamboo pens of different sizes. Small loops are situated on the sides of both the upper and lower parts of the case, allowing them to be threaded together and fastened around one’s waist for convenient access. This also serves as a marker of the wearer's status as a literate and knowledgeable individual.
Indonesia / 20th c.
Beaded Cigarette Pouch
In the Dutch East Indies, people would smoke homemade cigarettes known as “daun nipah” which were wrapped with dried nipah leaves and stored in pouches like this one. Carrying a beaded cigarette pouch was considered a delightful and tasteful accessory
India / 19th c.
Kalamkari Bed Fitted Sheet with Red Flowers and Tree of Life Motif
From the 18th to the 19th century, the Coromandel Coast of India exported a significant amount of hand-painted kalamkari fabric to Europe. This fabric not only benefited from fine, high-quality Indian cotton but also from India's exceptional painting and dyeing techniques. Consequently, kalamkari fabric became immensely popular in the Middle East and Europe. The demand for it grew to the point where many European nations had to introduce sumptuary laws regarding kalamkari fabric. In addition to being used for creating breathable and colorful garments, this cotton fabric was primarily employed for bedding and home decor.
Japan / Edo period (1603-1868)
Firefighter's Jacket (Hikeshi-Banten) with with Carp Crossing Dragon Gate Scene
Decoration was important to firefighters’ garments, which were far from purely utilitarian uniforms. Firefighters enjoyed respect and high status in urban Japan, especially in Edo period. Commoners wore reversible jackets (hikeshi-banten) made of thick, quilted cotton fabric for fire-resistant, with a plain indigo-dyed exterior and an elaborately decorated interior. This traditional Japanese firefighter's jacket features the words 'Mikkabi Fire Brigade, Division Six' embroidered on both the right and left lapels. The inside of the quilted jacket here depicts a carp leaping over the dragon gate amidst turbulent waves, symbolizing the auspicious power of rushing waters capable of extinguishing fires.
Japan / 20th c.
Yuzen-Dyed Kimono with Butterfly Motif on a Black Ground
In Japanese culture, Butterflies have long been associated with the idea of transformation and beauty because of its metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. Butterflies flying in darkness is also seen as an auspicious sign. It symbolizing love, joy, resilience, hope, and freedom. “Butterfly” in Japanese is pronounced chō, which sounds like the word for “long” (長), so the motif also symbolizes for enduring love and longevity. 
Japan / Edo period (1603-1867)
Embroidered Kimono Fragment
Throughout ancient times, the exquisite artistic patterns adorning kimonos have mirrored the delicate sensibilities of the Japanese people towards the changing seasons and the evolving social conventions within their history. The Treasure Collection, known as Takara-zukushi, refers to auspicious patterns featuring various treasures and lucky charms, with origins in Chinese and Buddhist auspicious motifs. These concepts were introduced to Japan during the Muromachi period (1336-1573) and were subsequently blended with Japanese mythological elements to create the distinctive patterns we recognize today.
Qing dynasty, Jiaqing reign (1796-1820)
Vase with a Sash and Indian Lotus Scrolls in Fencai Polychrome Enamels
Objects decorated with a wrapping or sash symbolize blessings for longevity and happiness. Due to its unique design and auspicious meaning, it has not only been appreciated by the rulers and subjects of the Qing Dynasty but also deeply cherished in Japan and Korea.