This morning, we visited The National Chinese Silk Museum. This museum was established in 1992, and it showcases the history and culture of Chinese silk. China is the home of silk, and the Chinese have been in the practice of weaving silk for thousands of years.
According to a Song Dynasty text, Leizu, the wife of the Yellow Emperor, was the first woman to weave silk. She is worshiped as the creator of silk. This museum is full of incredible artifacts, some of which are more than 5,000 years old!
This loom is from 5BC, and it was used for silk weaving.
The Silk Road was not actually one continuous road; it was a concept proposed by a German geographer to describe the multiple trade routes one could take from Western countries to reach the East. There were different routes by grass, desert, and by sea. In addition to trading goods along the Silk Road, people also traded ideas, techniques, and technology. The Silk Road was very important for the advancement of many things essential to our lives today!
The museum is full of gorgeous silk garments, some of which are embellished with real gold! Most of these garments were worn by members of the royal family. They incorporated gold in their clothing because it was a symbol of high social status.
The museum also had an interactive feature where you could take a selfie and virtually try on traditional Chinese silk outfits!
Chinese women used to be required to bind their feet so they could fit into tiny shoes (see below for an example!) Our tour guide mentioned that Westerners find this concept particularly odd, however Western women used to do the same thing to their waists when corsets were popular!
The first exhibit we toured at the museum focused on the history of Chinese silk, but the second exhibit was more focused on the evolution of Chinese fashion. We saw some examples of modern qipaos from the early 1900s.
In the photo above, the black qipao dress all the way on the right belonged to the step mother of the famous Chinese architect, I.M. Pei, who (fun fact!) designed the famous pyramids at the Louvre in Paris AND designed the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell!
The final room of this exhibit displayed recent pieces by Chinese designers that show a blend of Western and Eastern aesthetic. Here were some of my favorites!
Another Cornell Connection! This dress was designed by Lawrence Xu, who visited Cornell last Fall for a Cornell Fashion Collective event that displayed his couture designs on student models!
This navy jersey dress was worn by Princess Kate Middleton when she announced her engagement to Prince William!
The final exhibit we toured at the Silk Museum was a general history of Western Fashion presentation. It had some gorgeous examples of 1920s flapper dresses, and an insane shoe collection!!
And, of course, no fashion exhibit is complete without some classic examples of Pierre Balmain and Coco Chanel's designs!
But perhaps the MOST exciting part of our museum visit was the gift shop, where we found ICED COFFEE!!!! This was my first iced coffee since coming to China, and it was heavenly!
The grounds of the museum were so lovely, which made them the perfect setting for a quick photo shoot!
After lunch, we went shopping in the Silk district! Every shop was filled with a variety of silk scarves, ties, robes, and blouses! They also sold pajamas, purses, and other fun accessories.
Our next stop was Huzhou, a modern city with an exciting downtown area, where we enjoyed our dinner! After dinner, we walked around the lakeside area and saw one of China's 7 Star hotels, the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort.
This area was filled with Chinese locals and tourists, and since we are a group of American girls, we drew A LOT of attention to ourselves. We tried to pose for a group photo, and the Chinese tourists ended up jumping into our pics!! We were quickly surrounded by a crowd of eager photographers.
Yep! That man literally gave me his baby! Maybe they thought I was Britney Spears or something... it's unclear but as you can tell from the images we were pretty overwhelmed.
Despite the paparazzi, we managed to get a few good pics! And I guess now we're local celebrities!! We're trying to think of some ways to capitalize on our new fame, so if anyone has ideas, let me know!!
Tomorrow's factory visits are both focused on the process of dyeing and printing fabrics, so it's going to be a really exciting day!!