Hunan Replicates a Susha Danyi
After a two-year effort, the Hunan Museum and the Nanjing Brocade Research Institute successfully replicated a “Susha Danyi (素纱褝衣 plain unlined gauze gown)”. It weighs 49 grams, the same as the original.
Unearthed 40 years ago, this is the first officially authorized replica.
“Susha Danyi” replica (Photo/Li Ye)
“Susha Danyi” has been considered as the “most difficult to copy” in the world. Two such gowns were unearthed from the Han Tomb No.1 at Mawangdui, one with an L-shaped front, and the other with a straight front. The replica is of the straight fronted one.
Staff compare the replica and the original Susha Danyi.
Weaving machine customized for making the copy.
The Susha Danyi displayed at the Changsha Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs Exhibition was buried for more than two centuries. After being unearthed, the light and oxygen interacts with the cloth and threatens to this treasure. A copy is urgently needed.
In order to make a perfect replica, Hunan Museum and the Nanjing Brocade Research Institute staff studied and analyzed the original’s size, materials, tailoring, density, and color to accurately replicate it.
Silkworms capable of producing the silk close to that of 2,000 years ago were found. A tailored weaving machine for narrower fabric as the original was created. Machine parts for the weaving machine were made. A digital survey and drawing technology was needed to ensure an accurate reproduction.
Brocade masters and skilled weavers produced the gauze. They practiced for three months in order to be familiar with the weaving machine. It then took a year and a half to make the gauze.
Researchers experimented repeatedly in obtain the best degumming, dyeing, and tailoring effects. In the last step, 10 samples in different sizes were produced, to determine a tailoring method. A copy in the same shape, structure, size, and even weight with the original one was finally produced.
Twist directions are distinguished by color.
Yang Jianshun, Jiangsu Provincial Intangible Cultural Heritage inheritor and Nanjing art master, and his assistant adjust the weaving machine.
Staff making the Susha Danyi replica.
Master Yang Jianshun and his assistant sort the twists on the weaving machine.