ESSEX: Vibrant new exhibition at Saffron Walden Museum

A VIBRANT new exhibition showcasing beautifully colourful textiles mostly from pre-revolutionary China is opening at Saffron Walden Museum tomorrow (Saturday March 6). Silks of Life: Traditions, Fashions and Culture of Pre-Revolutionary China will

A VIBRANT new exhibition showcasing beautifully colourful textiles mostly from pre-revolutionary China is opening at Saffron Walden Museum tomorrow (Saturday March 6).

Silks of Life: Traditions, Fashions and Culture of Pre-Revolutionary China will tell stories about Chinese life and culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries through the use of exquisite textiles produced in that era.

The exhibition is centred on the themes of birth, marriage and the role of the family. Visitors can see a Chinese wedding dress and special occasion gowns embroidered with rich symbolic designs, as well as a delicately embroidered child's waistcoat, robes worn during pilgrimage and worship, and military and civil servants' costumes.

Alongside the wealth of garments on display will be a number of accessories, such as an elegant pair of silk shoes worn when binding a girl's feet from childhood was still in practice.


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Silks of Life will shed light on the relationship between Chinese society and fashion, offering a glimpse into the important role that colour, design, tradition and symbolism in fashion played in Chinese life.

The influence of Chinese themes on Western design will also be explored, through beautiful textile samples on loan from the Warner Textile Archive.

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Silks of Life tours Essex during 2010 as part of the celebration of Essex County Council's 20 year partnership with the Jiangsu province in China. It was created to celebrate these links in partnership with the Museums in Essex Committee.

Museum curator Carolyn Winfield said: "The beautiful designs and colours are a visual treat, and open a window onto family life and culture in pre-revolutionary China.

"We hope visitors will be inspired to find out more about China through this exhibition.

"I'm particularly pleased that some of the wonderful textiles from the Warner Archive in Braintree are on display along with costumes from Saffron Walden Museum's own collection."

Silks of Life runs at Saffron Walden from March 6 until July 4, before moving on to Bishop's Stortford Museum.

The exhibition was produced by the Essex County Council, Saffron Walden Museum, Braintree District Museum Trust Ltd. and funded by The Essex Jiangsu Festival, Essex County Council and the Museums in Essex Committee.

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