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The scene known as “One Hundred Boys” is popular for designs on women’s clothing, especially for weddings. These ample sleeve bands were sewn as cuffs on a 19th-century bridal robe. On the two tableaux there are symbols of happiness and prosperity, including a bat flying in the top left corner and a rabbit (a symbol of the moon) perched near the centre.

Where was this textile created?

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Cloth’s Journey

Asia: East Asia, China; Han people
Mid 19th century
Silk, embroidered with silk thread
55.2 cm x 23.5 cm
Gift of Helen Jahnke in honour of J. Fyle Edberg and Paul Foote courtesy of the Council for Canadian-American Relations/American Friends of Canada
T00.51.12 Textile Museum of Canada

There are a hundred boys with vivid faces embroidered on this pair of sleeve bands for a woman’s robe. The boys in the centre are conducting a Chinese New Year’s parade. At the front of the parade, two boys carry red banners with black characters proclaiming the traditional slogans of Chinese New Year celebrations. Above them, a dragon is flying and chasing a flaming Pearl of Wisdom that one boy carries on a stick.

These sleeve bands were made to adorn the cuffs of a silk robe, and would always appear together, yet separated – at least that was the initial intention of the maker. At some point they were removed from the robe, joined together and framed with black silk so they could be sold. The antics of the boys are forever separated from the robe they were to have adorned, and from the world they once inhabited.

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