Kesi, noun


A kesi is a Chinese silk tapestry woven in a pictorial design. The word literally translates as “cut silk”. The effect is that of a visual illusion of cut threads, created by distinct, unblended areas of color. Some very early kesis survive today, dating from the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). But the kesi came into wider use during China’s Southern Song period (1127-1279). The technique hit its stride during the Ming period (1368-1644) and continued until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911-1912. The kesi technique was often used to copy famous paintings.

There are several kesis in Converse Auctions’ East Meets West auction on Friday, August 25th (online only: The one with the highest pre-sale estimate ($4,000-$6,000) is the one pictured here: a large Chinese kesi embroidery of a village scene in a finely hand-carved gold gilt frame under glass. The frame measures 86 ½ inches by 47 inches. The scene depicts villagers who bring offerings of flowers and peaches to the immortals, under a red silk sky with clouds. Quan Yin and a phoenix are seated with two attendants on a cloud.