Woman's sleeveless jacket with butterflies (detail)

 Woman's sleeveless jacket with butterflies (detail)

Late 19th–early 20th century
Tapestry-woven (kesi) silk and metallic thread
27 x 36 in. (68.6 x 91.4 cm)

Colorful butterflies on a green background delicately adorn this sleeveless jacket, which features matching bands with butterflies on a black background. The width and complexity of bands in women's garments, including robes and coats as well as sleeveless jackets like this one, increased during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The butterfly textiles used to make this garment are in silk and metallic thread tapestry, known as kesi in Chinese. Although the tapestry technique is very flexible and allows great pictorial freedom, the butterfly motifs are symmetrically placed, a feature that is very common in Chinese garments.