• The Arts Society Penang
  • The Arts Society Penang

"Heavens Embroidered Cloth" The history and Development of Chinese Imperial Silk

David Rosier
Saturday 29th June at the Ming Art Gallery from 10:30am

This lecture traces the origins of, plus myths that surround, Imperial Chinese Silk. The fabric was a much desired product that mesmerised the World and, on occasions, exceeded the value of gold.

Initial consideration will be given to the origins of silk in Neolithic times (6000 to 4000BC) through to the creation of Imperial Silk Workshops in the early dynasties of China producing Regulated Court Costume.

The focus will then move to the rapid expansion of the silk industry and the role of the Silk Road in bringing this coveted product to the Middle East and on to Europe.

Particular consideration will be given to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) where silk weaving and embroidery reach a peak in terms of quality and variety of fabrics and production.

Finally, the lecture reviews the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) where from the highest standards of production achieved in the 18th Century we see quality suffering, as the quantity of silk produced accelerates due to the rapid expansion of Commercial Workshops and the industrialisation of the late 19th Century.

During each period of China’s history examples of both fabrics, and Imperial Costume, will be illustrated representing the pinnacle of the weavers’ and embroiderers’ expertise.


DAVID ROSIER is a Chartered Insurer by profession and a Fellow of the Assurance Medical Society, with extensive international experience as an author and lecturer in Medical Risk Assessment. He has in excess of 25 years of working and living in Asia. Whilst living in Hong Kong (1991-2004) he assembled a collection of approximately 700, predominately Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Imperial and related textiles/costume accessories. Past Committee Member of the Hong Kong Textile Society and frequent speaker on Imperial Insignia and Badges of Rank.

This will be David's second visit to The Arts Society Penang and we are delighted to welcome him back.