A purple cotton cloths exhibition is on at the Songjiang Cloth Art Gallery and will run through February 28.
A natural-colored cotton, purple cotton comes into purple flowers in its blooming season, but its cotton balls are yellow. Fibers of purple cotton are soft and long. When weaved into cloth, they show a natural yellowish color and are durable in use.
According to “Heavenly Creations,” a book on the agriculture and handicraft industry by Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) scientist Song Yingxing (1587-1666), cotton flowers at that time showed two colors, white or purple. Cotton with white flowers accounted for 90 percent of the total cotton cultivated area, whereas cotton with purple flowers accounted for only 10 percent.
Songjiang used to be one of the most important purple cotton flower production areas.
In the contemporary era, purple cotton cloths were exported as far as to European countries. Light, tender and air-permeable, they were widely used in making women’s underwear and long skirts, and men’s trousers.
At the Museum of London today, people can still see fashionable clothes worn by high society gentlemen in Britain in the 1830s, and trousers made by Chinese purple cotton cloths are one of the exhibited items.
Before the advent of textile technologies, people were weaving cloths in warp and weft directions. Therefore, plaid cloth is one of the most ancient patterns.
The purple cotton cloths at the Songjiang Cloth Art Gallery exhibition are mainly collected from the suburban district, Jiangsu Province and Henan Province. And their manufacturing dates range from late the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Republic of China period (1912-1949) and the earlier period since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
The majority of the clothes patterns are plaids.