Reflections of the Exotic East | China

Plum Blossoms

Circa 1935
Possibly made in Indiana
IQSCM 1997.007.0857, Ardis and Robert James Collection


Delicate plum blossoms sway gracefully on curving branches in this appliqué quilt. Because plum blossoms bloom in the harsh winter months, they are a traditional Chinese and Japanese symbol of strength, longevity, and rejuvenation. These plum blossoms hang asymmetrically—in a typically Japanese fashion—while the ordered setting of the blossoms in rows and columns reflects the Chinese preference for formal balance. The Art Deco-style borders are closely related to traditional Chinese “fretwork” patterns, or geometric linear background designs. The overall design of this quilt reflects America’s early twentieth-century passion for Asian-inspired interior furnishings.