A Chinese white satin embroidered with coloured silk and gold cope for the Portuguese market
Macao, Qing Dynasty, early 18th century
H. 141 x W. 298 cm
After the establishment of a Portuguese post in Macao in 1557, embroidered Chinese silks were made to order for furnishings, clothing and Christian liturgical vestments in which Chinese techniques and iconography were melded with designs copied from European engravings and objects brought to Macao from Goa by Portuguese ships. Large copes for ecclesiastic and smaller cloaks for lay representatives were common articles of clothing on the Iberian Peninsula in the 16th century and spread over Portuguese Asia as can be seen on the Namban screens made in Japan. The Portuguese had these cloaks made in India and China. Thanks to the very close trade relations maintained by the Portuguese between West India/Goa and China/Macao, the Chinese embroiderers more or less mimicked the Indian floral patterns which were very popular in the 17th and 18th-century international textile trade. In these export textiles, the birds and animals however remained Chinese in design. Chinese silks produced for the luxury market or specifically for the Church with Christian motifs were made into religious vestments either directly in China or in many parts of Catholic Europe just like Indian chintzes were made into women’s and men’s garments particularly in the Netherlands and England in the 18th century.