A RARE 'NINE-DRAGON' EMBROIDERED HANGING PANEL QING DYNASTY, 18TH CENTURY of rectangular shape, the centre decorated with a full-frontal gold dragon chasing a 'flaming pearl', flanked by eight ferocious dragons in different poses, all leaping amidst flying bats and multicolour satin stitch clouds reserved on a pale-yellow embroidered floral diaper ground, further encircled by a wide border of turbulent waves in satin stitch 119 by 206 cm., 47 by 81 in.
Large tapestries and hangings such as the present piece were used to decorate throne rooms of palaces throughout the Forbidden City. The sumptuous dragon design and palette of this hanging are typical of the period and represent the luxurious opulence of Qing dynasty furnishings and the style is similar to that found on contemporary imperial robes. In ancient China the dragon became a symbol of the imperial hierarchy. It is said that the first legendary Han dynasty emperor, Huang Di, immortalised into a dragon and ascended into heaven. The number nine is the number of celestial power and is thus considered the number of the emperor.
Compare a silk cushion cover similarly embroidered with a central scene of nine dragons and surrounded by swirling clouds and crashing waves, from the estate of Her Late Majesty Queen Mary and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated in Verity Wilson, Chinese Textiles, London, 2005, pl. 39; and a silk brocade hanging of nine dragons on a yellow ground above the terrestrial diagram at the hem, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27υth November 2007, lot 1825.