Suzhou Song Brocade
Song brocade, as its name implies, is a kind of brocade developed during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It is mainly produced in Suzhou, the ancient "silk city," and hence is also called Suzhou Song Brocade.
Song brocade can trace its origins to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) when Wu State (presently Suzhou area) aristocrats were using brocade in their daily lives. The art of brocade developed greatly during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), evolving into a new variety exquisite in quality and requiring unique skill, called Song brocade.
Song brocade was applied to not only clothes, but also more than 40 kinds of mounted painted scrolls. Thus the brocade was preserved together with some ancient famous paintings. It reached its peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).
According to the framework of the fabric, exquisiteness of the craft, quality of the material, and thickness and usages of the fabric, Song brocade is divided into four categories: heavy, thin, casket, and small.
It keeps the traditional features of ordinary brocade, but also adopts decorative patterns that show changes in strict symmetry. It is distinctively different from the flamboyant golden brocade and flower brocade in the Yuan and Ming dynasties.
There isn't a sharp contrast in colors, instead, several similar colors of nearly the same hue are used to achieve the artistic effect of prominence through contrast. It is bright without being overpowering.
The weaving art of Song brocade is very unique, and there are more than 20 procedures necessary to make a complete work. There are dual warps, a surface and a bottom, which led to it being called 'double brocade'. The design of it is elegant and the color is refined.
In terms of artistic style, the brocade uses geometrical patterns as its base, which is filled in with flowers and patterns of auspicious symbols.
Song brocade is not only an indispensable part of the silk culture of Suzhou, but also an outstanding representative of China's traditional silk crafts. With its magnificent color, delicate patterns and softness, Suzhou Song Brocade is honored as one of China's Four Famous Brocades, together with the Nanjing Yun brocade, Sichuan Su brocade and Guangxi Zhuang brocade.