In ancient China it was believed that images, if placed in the right positions, had the ability to come to life and act by moving in space and time, thus influencing the unfolding of events. Even in the rituals of the court it was believed that the fantastic animals and flying dragons that decorated the pavilions of the Forbidden City actively participated in the destinies of the empire.
During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) sculpture-carpets were commissioned in the oases of Xinjiang to adorn the renovated rooms of the imperial palace: the Elixir Carpets . Made of silk, copper, silver and gold, they were designed to cheer up the court like a refined game.
The carpets in fact represented the pieces of an intellectual mosaic, the solution of which would have appeared to the eyes of those who had been able to decipher the stories hidden between the warps and wefts.
The images in the carpets were also part of a language of power, earthly and spiritual, which indicated the figure of the emperor as the only mediator between Earth and Heaven, so some of these works were chosen as magical supports during ceremonies and rites shamanic events that took place in the halls of Kunninggong.
Already at the end of the 18th century, thanks to numerous commercial and diplomatic exchanges, the Elixir Carpets reached Europe as precious gifts offered to ambassadors and delegations visiting the court. To date, only 390 specimens preserved in private and museum collections are known.
The magnificent thirty-six carpets on display tell of the alchemical journey towards Kunlun, the door to Taoist paradise. With beautiful pavilions suspended in the clouds, Kunlun was described as a mythical place inhabited by Xi Wangmu , the Queen Mother of the Western Paradise. In his garden there were pearl trees and flowers of gold and jade. There was a lake there whose cinnabar waters had the power to give immortality to those who drank them.
The installation is a magical journey among the multicolored clouds, dragons and dancing phoenixes of the carpets. The mystery of reflections in ancient mirrors, the light that radiates from the golden background of the textures, the
vibrations of the music composed for the occasion bring us back to the ancient assertion previously mentioned: the images, step by step, come to life and participate in the fantastic story of the alchemical journey to Kunlun.