The Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) could be
characterized as the golden age of China. During the
Tang era, the economy prospered; traders and
travelers came from as far as India, Arabia, Japan
and Southeast Asia to work and live in the capitol,
Chang'an, which was considered the center of the
world by the Chinese.
Tang rulers were also tolerant of foreigners as
Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and
other religious groups coexisted in harmony.
Religious pilgrimage was also encouraged as
countless tales and stories were written about monks
traveling along the famous Silk Route bringing back
invaluable Buddhist scriptures to China. Under Tang
rule, culture and the arts flourished. Painting
style was elegant, reflecting the general prosperity
of the golden age of Chinese feudal society.
Since the Three Kingdoms period (A.D. 222-A.D. 280)
Suzhou was involved in the export trade along the
Silk Road, with Chinese silk eventually traded as
far as Japan, Persia, Greece and Rome. Two routes
were utilized, one leading by land through Central
Asia, the other based on naval routes to Southeast
Asia, then to ports of the Indian Ocean, Red Sea or
Persian gulf. Silk weaving skills were highly
developed by the Tang Dynasty.
Silk from Tang Dynasty is not only colorful and
lustrous, but also very rich and beautiful in
pattern. Suzhou Silk embroidery at Tang Dynasty has
a wide range of themes including birds, beasts,
flowers, and trees etc. Phoenix, peacock, parrot,
mandarin duck and hoopoe were often used in
embroidering, printing and dyeing. Sometimes the
birds were mixed with bees, butterflies, moths,
dragonflies, insects. Beasts such as lions,
unicorns, tigers, leopards, deer, camel were mainly
used in the subject patterns of heavily colored
brocade. Among flowers and trees, peony was most
favorite subject while twining branches, crossing
branches and a bunch of flowers were used together.