Knowing All about Hunan

Hunan Makes a Copy of Susha Danyi

Updated:2019-04-02 10:58:00

Taking two-year efforts, the Hunan Museum and the Nanjing Brocade Research Institute joined hands in making a copy of the “Susha Danyi (素纱单衣 plain unlined gauze gown)”. The weight is only 49 grams, the same as the original one.

This is the first officially authorized copy of this treasure after it was unearthed over 40 years ago.

The copy of “Su Sha Dan Yi” (Photo/Li Ye)

“Susha Danyi” was considered as the cloth “most difficult to copy” in the world. There were two such gowns unearthed from the Han Tomb No.1 at Mawangdui, one with L-shaped front, and the other with straight front. The copy is based on the later one.

The staff compare the copy and the original Susha Danyi.

A weaving machine is customized for making the copy.

The Susha Danyi displayed at the Changhsa Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tombs Exhibition was buried under ground for more than two centuries. The environment changes after being unearthed, and the light, oxygen impacts during a long-time exhibition, were threats to this treasure. Therefore, a copy is urgently needed.

In order to make a perfect copy, the staff of the Hunan Museum and the Nanjing Brocade Research Institute studied and analyzed the size, materials, tailoring, density, and color of the original one, and figured out accurate data for making the copy.

They found the silkworms which can produce the silk most closely to that 2,000 years ago; tailored a weaving machine with narrower width of fabric as the ancient ones, and adaptive machine parts; and, used digital survey and drawing technology to ensure an accurate reproduction of the patterns.

Brocade masters and skilled weavers were organized to produce the gauze. They practiced for three months in advance to get familiar with the weaving machine, and then took one and half a year to make the gauze.

The research team also experimented repeatedly in order to reach 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 colors.

Yang Jianshun, Jiangsu Provincial Intangible Cultural Heritage inheritor and Nanjing art master, and his assistant adjust the weaving machine.

Staff is making the copy of Susha Danyi.

Master Yang Jianshun and his assistant sort the twists on the weaving machine.