Japanese Silk Needlework
Appraised Value: $1,500 - $3,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:37)
Lark Mason & Associates
GUEST: Well, it's a silk tapestry. It's all silk thread. There are a couple of places where there is a little damage. It's my understanding that it's 400 years old, from Beijing, China. I know it came from China. My aunt purchased it there around 1934. I've always wondered whether it was night or day.
APPRAISER: As the light changes on it, it appears to be a scene with a moon, and yet I'm not sure. Now, pardon the pun, but I'm going to unravel this mystery.
APPRAISER: Let's start first with what the scene is. It's very monochromatic, which is why you're having a hard time telling what it is. These silk threads were actually dyed pretty bright colors originally.
GUEST: Oh... age.
APPRAISER: Now the dyes, though, and the sun, faded, and they fade quite rapidly. So what one ends up with is this very monochromatic scene. Now, here in the center is a small orb. I think that's probably the moon. Down here in the lower section, you have this wonderful sort of river view: a little stream running through rushes. And you've also got over here on the side a little rustic hut, and it's in this bamboo grove. My bet is that it's an evening scene, and the moon is high in the evening. It's very serene and peaceful and quiet. I like it. I'm sure people could argue with me, but you know, we can't really tell with the fading that's occurred. Second, what is this? You think it's a tapestry. It's actually not. A tapestry is a woven technique...
APPRAISER: and embroidery is a needlework technique. So these are actually separate threads that have been sewn onto a silk backing. So it's not a tapestry.
APPRAISER: The other mystery-- it's actually not Chinese.
APPRAISER: It's bought in China, but it's actually Japanese.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness.
APPRAISER: Now, how do I know it's Japanese? Well, this particular type of embroidery was very popular in Japan toward the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Why did they choose to do this? Japan was industrializing. They were trying to make products for the West. So they wanted to create something that would appeal to a Western audience, even if that Western audience was in Beijing, China. Now, the other part of this was the age. Your aunt had said it was 400 years old. Obviously, it's not. It's not 400 years old because this technique did not exist at the time.
APPRAISER: It certainly would have deteriorated far beyond what you see here. But most importantly, this kind of expansive, wonderful landscape view, which is basically a Western perspective, did not exist in Japan to any great degree until the 20th century.
APPRAISER: So it actually may have dated back as early as 1900 to 1920, that kind of time frame. It was not new when your aunt bought it. Now, in terms of the condition, you'll notice throughout here, there are little bald spots. There's not a lot that can be done. I wouldn't do anything to it. It's all okay.
APPRAISER: Now, I would say if we sold this at auction, it would make somewhere in the order of about $1,500 to $2,500, maybe $2,000 to $3,000.
GUEST: Well, that's great.
APPRAISER: Somewhere in that range. And, you know, if it were all bright and pristine, it would be worth as much as $6,000 to $8,000.
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