Glanz der Himmelssoehne



The Aalerink cloud cover
Ningxia, circa 1700
184 x 252 cm, wool pile on a wool and cotton foundation
Private collection, Ticino

The dark blue field is filled with large clouds with two tails. In the first row the upper tail points to the right and the lower tail to the left, and these directions reverse in each subsequent row. The colours of the clouds follow a sequence, from right to left, of brown-black with yellow outline, pink with pale pink, gold with pale gold, pale gold with brown-black, pink with gold, pale gold with gold. The sequence repeats in the next row, but the colour scheme moves two positions to the left. The repeat in the same position occurs every five rows. Narrow bands in yellow, brown-black and light blue separate the field from the inner border, which has a swastika fret design in pink on pale pink that reverses at the centre of each of the four sides. Narrow bands in light blue and brown-black separate the inner and primary borders. The pattern of the latter, set against a gold-yellow ground, is a soft pink meandering stem outlined in red, from which protrude off-yellow forked leaves outlined in yellow and multi-coloured peony blossoms that point alternately inwards and outwards. Narrow bands in brown-black, pink, pale pink, and gold surround the primary border, and the wide outer frame is in brown-black.

Four other examples are known with these distinctive cloud shapes. Two daybed covers, both on a yellow ground, have clouds only, as on this example. Two fragmented dais covers, one on a yellow ground and the other on blue, have cranes overlaid on the clouds.


published to accompany the recent exhibition Glanz der Himmelssoehne,
held at the Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne, October 2005 to January 2006
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all text and illustrations © textile-art 2006: not to be reproduced without permission