Coffin cover

Coffin covers were possibly some of the largest pieces of embroidery used by the Peranakan Chinese. The coffin cover and its motifs served to protect the deceased from any ‘unclean’ elements. This piece contains several motifs such as one of Buddha with a swastika symbol that was believed to have been stamped on his chest by his initiates after his death. The lotus flower is a Buddhist symbol that represents purity of body, speech and mind. The blue background used in this piece is also significant as the colour is associated with mourning. The motifs are enhanced with the use of gold metallic thread embroidery. The technique of couching where the metallic threads are laid on the base fabric and fastened using other stitches is employed here. Larger pieces of embroidery such as this were usually produced in China by professional workshops and shipped to their Straits Chinese customers.

Early 20th century
Straits Settlements
Object size: 121.5 x 217 cm
Accession No.
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum

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