Interwoven globe

The state bed at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The state bed at Calke Abbey. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The ever-stimulating Style Court blog has recently been featuring the exhibition currently on at the Metropolitan Museum in New York entitled Interwoven Globe, about how the international trade in textiles the early modern period influenced design across the world.

The Chinese embroidered silk inside the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millarthe Chinese silk embroidered hangings on the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

The Chinese embroidered silk inside the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millarthe Chinese silk embroidered hangings on the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

I am perusing the catalogue at the moment, and it is fascinating to read how European motifs ended up in Chinese silks, and how Chinese and Japanese motifs were in turn copied in Europe. Some ‘exotic’ textiles, such as Indian painted cotton palampores, actually combined elements from China, Persia, India and England.

Phoenix embroidered onto the white silk covering of the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

Phoenix embroidered onto the white silk covering of the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar the State Bed at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

This important exhibition is a suitable excuse for me to show some images of the rather gorgeous state bed at Calke Abbey, which is hung with Chinese embroidered silk. The bed was probably made for King George I in about 1715, and seems to have been given to Lady Caroline Manners by Queen Caroline when she married Sir Henry Harpur, 5th Bt, in 1734. Since the bed was hardly ever put up at Calke (it was too tall for most of the rooms in the family part of the house) the silk has been quite well preserved.

Qilin embroiderd onto the blue silk covers on the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Qilin embroiderd onto the blue silk covers on the state bed at Calke. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The blue material is like taffeta and is relatively light, while the white silk is heavier and has a satin finish. Tightly rolled peacock feathers were used for the knots in the tree trunks and the markings on the butterfly wings.

6 Responses to “Interwoven globe”

  1. robert Says:

    Palampores, what a wonderful word to learn. Thank you Emile. I possess some very minor, unimportant but amusing 19th century cotton panels purchased by my grandmother in the later 1940′s in Iran. Indeed, these may be palampores. I often picture her bargaining in the marketplaces of Shiraz, Isfahan, Tehran and on to Shanghai, Phnom Penh, Hue, Tunis or Beirut. How unfortunate few of these cities have been unavailable to us in the past decades. Such fascinating people and such beautiful items.

  2. suesconsideredtrifles Says:

    When I visited Calke Abbey I was fascinated by the embroidery on this bed. I wondered whether they told a story. Sue

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Robert, apparently ‘palampore’ derives from the Hindi word ‘palang-pos’, meaning bedspread – as I have just read in catalogue entry 52 in the above-mentioned catalogue!

    Great to have such beautiful mementoes of your grandmother.

    Considered Trifles, I think the motifs are various combinations of auspicious beings and things. Flowers and plants have all sorts of positive meanings in Chinese art, and mythical beasts such as the qilin and the phoenix were regarded in a similar way. And as the essays in the Met catalogue tell us there may be some non-Chinese elements in the design as well.

  4. deana Says:

    I think what I found most amazing was the condition of this bed fabric. It really looked brand new. The colors and the stitching were unbelievably intricate and vivid.

    If you look carefully the back bit is slightly off-color as it was pulled out and displayed for some time so doesn’t look as brand new as the rest. It really is an amazing bed. Bless the family for not throwing anything away!

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes the Harpur-Crewe’s of Calke were great keepers :)

  6. style court Says:

    Emile — I’ve been out of town and am just catching up with TH. Stunning examples from Calke! Thanks for the mention too!

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