Chinese Embroidery & Textiles

China is well known for its delicate silk threads and has decoratively embroidered textiles for thousands of years. Discovered by the outside world during the Han dynasty, Chinese embroidery and textiles became famous and were traded among the Greeks, Somalis, Romans, Persians, Indians, and Armenians for their beauty and lightweight quality. They were also sought after because they had a tendency to keep a person warm in the winter but cool in the summer.

The production of Chinese silk textiles was once one of the best kept trade secrets. Rearing silkworms to make silk requires care from the egg stage of a silkworm’s life until its cocoon stage. Once the worm reaches cocoon stage, the cocoon must be steamed or baked so that the pupa inside will die, and then dipped into hot water to unwind the cocoon filaments that create the silk threads.

Each region of China had their own distinctive style of embroidery. The oldest known style originates from the Sichuan province. This style is painstakingly precise, characterized by even stitches and subtle colors. The Guangdong province favored more geometric patterns and primary colors. Suzhou also used bright elegant colors, and chose to depict more natural imagery. The Hunan aesthetic, however, was different in that it was black and white.


Quick Facts

  • Historically, if anyone were to attempt to reveal the secrets of silk-making outside of China, or bring silkworms and cocoons out of China, this was considered a crime punishable by death
  • The silkworm diet consisted solely of mulberry leaves, which they ate until becoming very fat. In addition to this mulberry leaf diet, silkworms were also carefully protected from loud noises, drafts, and strong smells
  • The secret of sericulture, the art of silk-making, was let out of China when many Chinese emigrated to Korea in 200 B.C. Since then, trade and travelers spread this art worldwide

Recommended Items at Auction

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CHINESE RED & GILT DRAGON & PHOENIX EMBROIDERY
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
CHINESE RED & GILT DRAGON & PHOENIX EMBROIDERY
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$4004 Bids
PAIR, CHINESE FRAMED FIGURAL EMBROIDERY WORKS
Oct 22, 10:00 AM EDT
PAIR, CHINESE FRAMED FIGURAL EMBROIDERY WORKS
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$2502 Bids
Lot of 2 Framed Hungarian Embroideries
Oct 20, 11:00 AM EDT
Lot of 2 Framed Hungarian Embroideries
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $50- $100
$101 Bid
An embroidered dark blue satin informal robe, chang-fu, Chinese, circa 1900,
Oct 25, 10:30 AM BST
An embroidered dark blue satin informal robe, chang-fu, Chinese, circa 1900,
by Kerry Taylor Auctions
Est: £250- £300
£2001 Bid
Chinese Silk Embroidered Skirtcream ground with butterflies amid blue flowerslength 40 inches
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Chinese Silk Embroidered Skirtcream ground with butterflies amid blue flowerslength 40 inches
by Nadeau's Auction Gallery
Est: $150- $250
$751 Bid
An informal winter robe of blue silk damask, Chang-Fu, Chinese, late 19th century,
Oct 25, 10:30 AM BST
An informal winter robe of blue silk damask, Chang-Fu, Chinese, late 19th century,
by Kerry Taylor Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£1601 Bid
Two Chinese Silk Embroidered Textiles, Qing Dynasty
Oct 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Two Chinese Silk Embroidered Textiles, Qing Dynasty
by Material Culture
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
An attractive Han Chinese pink damask silk skirt
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
An attractive Han Chinese pink damask silk skirt
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £300- £500
£2801 Bid
An embroidered orange satin semi-formal robe, Chinese, circa 1900,
Oct 25, 10:30 AM BST
An embroidered orange satin semi-formal robe, Chinese, circa 1900,
by Kerry Taylor Auctions
Est: £350- £500
£2801 Bid
An informal robe of embroidered blue silk-damask, Chang-Fu, Chinese, 1920s-30s,
Oct 25, 10:30 AM BST
An informal robe of embroidered blue silk-damask, Chang-Fu, Chinese, 1920s-30s,
by Kerry Taylor Auctions
Est: £300- £500
£2401 Bid
CHINESE SILK ROBE
Nov 12, 11:00 AM EST
CHINESE SILK ROBE
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $500- $700
$2501 Bid
Five Vintage framed Chinese silk needle work pieces
Oct 24, 11:00 AM AEST
Five Vintage framed Chinese silk needle work pieces
by Pfeffer's Auctions
Est: AUD200- AUD400
AUD1001 Bid
Ethnographic Lot of Antique Embroidered Textiles
Nov 15, 10:00 AM EST
Ethnographic Lot of Antique Embroidered Textiles
by Material Culture
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
A black silk Chinese Canton shawl embroi
Oct 21, 1:00 PM BST
A black silk Chinese Canton shawl embroi
by Kinghams Auctioneers
Est: £300- £400
£1801 Bid
Vier feinste Kesi-Webbilder aus Suzhou, China 20. Jh.
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CEST
Vier feinste Kesi-Webbilder aus Suzhou, China 20. Jh.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €200- €300
€600 Bids
ENGLISH GROUP OF ECCLESIASTICAL TEXTILES
Oct 20, 10:00 AM BST
ENGLISH GROUP OF ECCLESIASTICAL TEXTILES
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £500- £700
£2400 Bids
20TH Century Chinese Kesi Silk Embroidery
Oct 30, 9:30 AM EDT
20TH Century Chinese Kesi Silk Embroidery
by Luban Antique
Est: $50- $100
$100 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Embroidery & Textiles


Empire Auction House

Empire Auction House

Keystone Auctions LLC

Keystone Auctions LLC

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Designer Homes of Central Florida

Ander's Auction

Ander's Auction