(Chinese, mid-1100s-early 1200s)
Handscroll; ink and color on silk
First Section: 26.7 x 98.6 cm (10 1/2 x 38 13/16 in.); Second Section: 27.6 x 92.3 cm (10 7/8 x 36 5/16 in.); Third Section: 27.6 x 92.3 cm (10 7/8 x 36 5/16 in.)
John L. Severance Collection 1977.5
The painting is attributed to Liang Kai, a court artist active from about 1201 to 1204 at the Imperial Painting Academy in the city of Hangzhou, a major silk weaving center from that time to the present day.
By the Southern Song period, the economic center of the silk industry had shifted to the lower Yangzi delta, while the north continued to be troubled by wars.
Divided into three sections, the handscroll illustrates 14 steps in the process of making silk. The scroll’s scenes follow the illustrations of Lou Shou’s (1090–1162) Pictures of Tilling and Weaving (gengzhi tu), the first recorded painting of this genre, which was conceived in Hangzhou around 1145. However, in the Cleveland painting the artist groups several scenes of sericulture together under the roof of an open structure.
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