Large pictorial silk tapestries such as this one were mostly woven in the imperial workshops in Suzhou, a textile center in southeast China. The bright yellow background, a color exclusive to the emperor, further confirms its imperial origins. The five phoenixes probably refer to the five species of this auspicious bird in Chinese myths. This piece is paired with another five-phoenix panel in The Met collection, and the set could represent the five ideal relationships (wulun) in Confucianism: between father and son, husband and wife, emperor and official, senior and youth, and among friends.
Mrs. John F. Seaman , Poughkeepsie, NY (until 1925; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Korean Art," February 7, 1958–April 3, 1958.
Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Treasures of the Metropolitan- Curator's Choice," October 23, 1970–January 3, 1971.
Denver Art Museum. "Threads of China: Rare Silks and Robes," September 21, 1972–October 22, 1972.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Textiles," September 6, 2011–April 15, 2012.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Spirited Creatures: Animal Representations in Chinese Silk and Lacquer," October 21, 2017–July 22, 2018.