I have recently been looking at the similarities between the flowering trees, birds and rocks on Chinese silk and on Chinese wallpaper. There seems to have been a lot of visual cross-fertilisation going on, not only between these different categories of Chinese products, but also involving the ‘tree of life’ motifs on Indian chintz.
Another element in this fascinating but confusing mix is the category of European leather wall-hangings, like this set at Bateman’s. Many of these hangings are clearly decorated with the same type of bird and flower imagery.
The closest parallels to these seem to the the stylised, serpentine ‘tree of life’ motifs on Indian chintzes. But those, in turn, seems to have been partly influenced by European embroideries and by Chinese garden imagery as seen on textiles, lacquer, porcelain and wallpaper.
It is a classic ‘chicken and egg’ problem: which came first? It may prove to be impossible to identify the Ur-version of this type of decoration, but we can certainly learn more by making further comparisons.