Two Pheasants on a Rock

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

Date: 19th century

Culture: China

Medium: Silk and metallic thread tapestry (kesi) with ink and color

Dimensions: Overall: 38 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. (97.8 x 62.2 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Tapestries

Credit Line: John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1913

Accession Number: 13.220.101


While at first glance this picture of pheasants and a distant landscape looks like a painting, it is actually silk tapestry (kesi). Beginning in the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) and continuing into the late Qing, faithful reproductions of paintings were made in kesi. By contrast, tapestry-woven silks with decorative patterns were produced for clothing and furnishings. By the nineteenth century, kesipictures show a change in technique: large areas are tapestry-woven in a single color and then details painted in. Here, for example, the river is a single area with painted waves and ripples. (From China, 1800–1900 A.D.)