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Chinese processional costume material analysis

Chinese processional costume material analysis

The Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo generously lent the National Museum a processional costume for display in the Landmarks gallery from 2011 to 2015.

The Golden Dragon Museum holds a large and justly famous collection of Chinese processional regalia used regularly in the procession at the Bendigo Easter Fair. Most items date back to the 1880s and were made in China, at Canton (Guangzhou). Many were made from elaborately embroidered silk.

The costume lent to the National Museum includes an embroidered jacket, hat and shoes. These would have been worn for many years by the 'Princess' of the parade; a young girl selected each year from the Chinese community.

Gold thread for the embroidery was made by attaching gold leaf on to paper, which was cut into fine strips. These strips were then spiralled around cotton thread. To learn more about these materials, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing was performed by National Museum conservators David Hallam and Deb Spoehr. The intent was to test the metallic make-up contained in the threads and the fabrics. Gold and other metals were detected; this information will assist with the preservation and display of the costume.

All photography by Jason McCarthy.

View more about the Chinese processional costume