Glanz der Himmelssoehne
Kaiserliche Teppiche aus China 1400-1750
Michael Franses and Hans Koenig

Textile & Art Publications

 Please click on the illustrations and chapter titles to view further images and English translations of extracts from the German text

The Kangxi emperor at his writing desk

  Chinese carpets from the 'classical' period, 1400 to 1750, possess a serenity and balance that are quite unsurpassed. These attributes did not come about purely by chance, but rather through centuries of tradition and refinement. In order to create these beautiful objects, the Chinese master weavers used highly elaborate methods of weaving incorporating a huge repertoire of knotting techniques, far more than in any other carpet-making region. The range of colours and the use of varying shades of each colour were the result of more than two thousand years of usage and development of natural dyestuffs.
Carpets are generally considered utilitarian objects and their creation at best a minor craft. Yet, for whole groups of people they were their primary medium of artistic expression. They were not simply an art form but the very essence of the peoples that created them. Their designs, their placement and the combinations of colours expressed a language of symbols that stretched back more than two millennia. These symbols were so fundamental to the existence of the people that they were considered to bestow all aspects of a healthy and fruitful life as well as facilitating a smooth passage of the soul into the next world.  

Imperial Palace carpet with dragons (detail)

floral carpet (detail)

  Probably fewer than six hundred Chinese carpets survive today from the classical period. The Palace Museum in Beijing has the largest collection, with fewer than one hundred; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has some fifteen rugs and a similar number survive in The Textile Museum, Washington, D.C. A few other museums possess just one or two examples, often gifts they received by chance.
The main body of examples is held in private collections in Europe and the United States of America. They have survived through the foresight, care and connoisseurship of their owners. Due to their scarcity, classical Chinese carpets have remained virtually unknown. Their beauty is admired superficially, but their meanings and tradition remain a mystery. It is hoped that through projects such as this, a light can be kindled that encourages others to research the subject more deeply.  

swastika lattice and bats carpet (detail)


clouds carpet (detail)


Chapters in the book discuss:
Carpets in China before 1400 (in German)
The Imperial Palace Carpets (in German)
The designs of classical Chinese carpets (in German)
Classical Chinese carpets in the West (in German)

Appendices include:
Some notes on the structure of classical Chinese carpets (in English, by Elena Tsareva)
- Detailed notes on all the carpets (in German and English)

[Splendour of the Sons of Heaven, Imperial Chinese Carpets 1400-1750]
Published by Textile & Art Publications Ltd, London
- German language text, with essay on structure analysis in English
- Limited edition, hardbound, 250 x 350 mm
- 228 pages, 68 carpets illustrated
- 170 full colour plates, including full-page details, plus over 75 other colour illustrations

ISBN: 978-1-898406-45-7

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Available direct from the publishers
Textile & Art Publications
Unit 4 Heron Trading Estate, Alliance Road, London W3 0RA, England
Tel (44-20) 8896 3238


published to accompany the 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.