The Empire’s New Cloth: Western Textiles at the Eighteenth Century Qing Court


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships


Art and Design History and Theory


This project examines the forgotten history of European textiles at the Qing court and Qing imperial products after European models—both called xiyang (Western) textiles in period documents. Focusing on luxury silk brocades and woolen tapestries, it shows how their fresh visual styles, materiality, and embedded spatial concept inspired new modes of political display for the Qianlong emperor. This research reestablishes the prominent role of Western textiles in creating hybrid visual programs, which were strategically designed to project the emperor’s political identity. Shedding light on Qing imperial uses of Western textiles as a focused political agenda through engagement with global flows of objects, this project adds nuances to the reciprocity and dynamism in eighteenth-century global exchanges.