Imperial Workshops of Beijing
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Jiaqing period (1796-1820)
275 x 350 cm
Silk pile, gilded copper threads
Cotton warp and weft
faded colors in a small area on the second border
The inscription reads:
Made for the Hall of Central Harmony
Antiquitas, di Piero Di Nepi, Roma
Collection of Teodoro Monaco, Roma
IMPERIAL CARPETS – THE MEANING OF FIVE AND NINE
The main symbol on a carpet usually only occurs five or nine times, like five or nine dragons, five lions, nine phoenixes. Five and nine are two very important numbers within the ancient Chinese numerical description of the world.
Five (Wu) connotes the four cardinal points plus the center, and reflects the Five Agents - Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each Agent corresponds a spatial direction, a season, a quadrant of the sky symbolized by an animal, a color and, by extension, any element in life that may be arranged within a quinary system.
Representing the fullest expression of yang, Nine (Jiu) is closely associated with heaven in that it evoked infinity, partly because it was the product of three times three, the most basic unit of three being heaven, earth and man, and partly because the number nine was homophone with the word Jiu meaning eternity.