Yunjin （云锦） brocade is a famous local handicraft specialty of Nanjing that has been inscribed on UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List and is reputed as one of the "Three Famous Brocades" in China along with the Songjin （宋锦） brocade of Suzhou and the Shujin （蜀锦） brocade of Sichuan.
This kind of traditional silkwork dates back to 1500 years ago, as the most luxurious and valuable fabric in ancient China. A special administrative office was set up to manage the production of cloud brocade in Nanjing by the Eastern Jin Dynasty government in 417. The special official fabric office was established by the government of Yuan, Ming, Qing dynasty to administrate the brocade production and sales. The brocade production boom peaked in the middle of the Qing Dynasty. The sound of people weaving could be heard day and night along the Qinghuai River in Nanjing.
It became the material for emperors’s "dragon robe" from Tang Dynasty on, woven with dozens of exquisitely-designed dragons made of a unique silk fabric. After the Mongolians conquered central China, the Yuan Emperors added flourishing gold threads into the brocade.
An inch of yunjin brocade was said to be as valuable as an ounce of gold because of the complicated production process, precious raw material and the high technical requirements. The weaving machine was made of two main parts: one above and one below in a delicate production order as complicated as current computer language, which showed the great talent of Chinese in the ancient days. The weaving technology of the brocade is exceeding complex and exquisite, which can not be replaced yet by modern machine nowadays .
Yunjin brocade merges picturesque landscapes with the profound culture of Nanjing, and reflects the marvelous concepts and painstaking work of numerous artisans. With soft and tough mulberry silk, flexible peacock feathers, and precious gold and silver thread, artisans produce the beautiful brocade on a complicated loom requiring meticulous technique.
Cloud pattern brocade has its origin in the tapestry of Suzhou. The technology of brocade is unique, the machine is called old-fashioned flower weaving machine. Two workers can only produce 5-6cm one day through using this kind of machine. Brocade is characterized by its major flower's color through the woven faceplate and dug from different angles. Floral embroidery on the color is different. As s fabric for royal, the materials of the brocade always have a good quality. Its design and color must meet the user's favorite psychological and practical requirements of the particular environment. The whole process is hard. Absolutely, brocade is an art, and it has its own arts and culture. The dragon pattern on the gown stands for "Son of Heaven" and "imperial" power of the apotheosis" along with the "sun, moon, stars, mountains. Brocade patterns expressed the Chinese folk’s longing for happiness, joy, wealth, longevity, success, etc.
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