Ceremonial handkerchief or dowry tray cover

This handkerchief (sapu tangan) was probably used as a decorative tray cover that was placed over items presented on trays as part of a ceremony. A circular medallion comprising a pair of confronting phoenixes and a peony bloom occupy the centre of the cloth. It is outlined by a band of lotuses. The medallion is further framed by four qilins, each demarcated by Chinese cloud scroll patterns in silver thread. Two borders comprising silk floss in satin and voided stitches, and drawn work embroidery enclose the main square decoration. The drawn work embroidery consists of repeated geometric shapes and stylised animals. Given the auspicious motifs on this piece, this handkerchief could have been part of the bridal trousseau prepared for the groom and his family. The phoenix is symbolic of martial harmony while the qilin represents fertility and longevity.

early 20th century
Probably Sumatra, Indonesia.
Object size: 50.5 x 51.4 cm
Accession No.
Silk, silk floss, metal thread, gold bobbin lace.
Collection of
Peranakan Museum

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