Decorative metallic threads of Famen temple silk: their categorization, application, and technology

Lu, Zhiyong (2018) Decorative metallic threads of Famen temple silk: their categorization, application, and technology. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis surveys the ninth-century metallic threads decorating silks discovered at Famen temple in Shaanxi province, China. In this research, metallic threads decorating Famen silks have been studied and documented in detail in order to understand how they were produced and how they were applied. Samples of metallic threads were selected and optical microscope and SEM/EDS were used to determine their morphology and composition. Problems regarding the current terminology used to describe metallic threads are briefly considered, and a systematic renaming of different types of metallic threads is suggested.
Analysis results show that most Famen metallic threads were made of gold strips without substrate wound around a fibrous core, and that very few are silver strips without substrate wound around a fibrous core. Silver strips with paper substrate wound around a fibrous core are found among Famen silks, providing very early examples of this type of metallic thread in the world. Technical evidence demonstrates that the Famen metallic strips were cut from hammered metallic foil. It was found that metallic threads of different metal composition with different physical characteristics were selected according to the decoration techniques used and the function of the silks. The use of metallic threads with different grades of evenness in dimension and morphology for different decoration techniques was also found. The gold contents of these gold threads are all very high, and the thicknesses of the gold strips are large. All these characteristics are probably related to the function of Famen silks as objects of Buddhist worship that had been donated to the temple by members of the Tang imperial family and other high-ranking people.
Technical investigation into the manufacture of modern traditional Chinese metallic threads was carried out in this research. Combined with analysis of the morphological, structural, and material nature of Famen metallic threads, the key technical characteristics of modern traditional metallic threads were found, which provided important evidence for deducing the manufacturing techniques of Famen metallic threads. Successful reconstructive experiments that produced metallic threads similar to Famen metallic threads were carried out in the laboratory by the author. The use of other known related techniques to produce Famen metallic threads was eliminated on technical grounds. With the above evidence, the manufacturing of Famen metallic threads, especially how the metallic strips were wound around the fibrous core, are reasonably deduced here.
By investigating a number of currently accessible Chinese historical metallic threads from other periods, the evolutionary principles of Chinese metallic threads are concluded. The special characteristics of Famen metallic threads, the reasons determining these characteristics are better understood, and their role in the development of Chinese metallic threads is assessed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available once any embargo periods have expired.
Keywords: Chinese, Famen silk, mettalic threads, deoration, manufacturing techniques, categorization.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Funder's Name: Abegg-Foundation
Supervisor's Name: Pearce, Prof. Nick and Hancock, Mrs. Elizabeth
Date of Award: 2018
Embargo Date: 1 November 2021
Depositing User: Mr. Zhiyong Lu
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30974
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 10:24
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2018 14:38

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