Nanjing Yunjin tapestry dates back almost 1,600 years. The traditional Jacquard silk patterns are as various and as beautiful as the clouds in the sky, hence the name "Yunjin", which means "cloud-pattern brocade" in Chinese.
Yunjin is the only silk textile still handmade and its production cannot be replaced with modern machines, according to Wang Baolin, curator of Nanjing Yunjin Museum and chairman of the Nanjing Yunjin Research Institute.
The Chinese tradition of weaving Nanjing Yunjin requires two craftspeople to operate the upper and lower parts of a complicated loom 5.6 meters long, 1.4m wide and 4m high. They incorporate luxurious materials such as gold, silk and peacock feather yarn. Preserved in Nanjing, in East China's Jiangsu province, the method comprises more than 100 procedures, including drafting patterns, creating Jacquard cards for programming weaving patterns, dressing the loom and many stages of weaving itself.
Weavers sing ballads that remind them of the techniques while they pass the warp and split the weft, enhancing a cooperative and artistic atmosphere at the loom.
"It shows Chinese people's craftsmanship in that they can produce such exquisite Yunjin with a primitive machine," Wang said.
The brocade had been produced only for the royal family before late in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when the products were also sold to common citizens. Today, it is primarily sold as high-end attire and souvenirs.
If You Go
8 am-5:30 pm, Nanjing Yunjin Museum, 240 Chating East Street, 025-86563710.