A pair of oblong pillows, the sides made of indigo-dyed cotton fabric, with a square of red silk at each end bound with black fabric and embroidered with flowers and a butterfly in silk.

Rev. Robert John Davidson (1864 - 1942) and his wife Mary Jane Davidson (1847 - 1918) were Quaker missionaries at the Friends' Foreign Mission Association in Chungking, Szechuan, China from 1890 until 1894. As well as being a missionary, Mary was a trained nurse and midwife and helped the local community. She is probably responsible for the large number of items in the Museum's collection which relate to women and children. In 1895 the Davidsons returned to Britain, where they toured the country lecturing at Quaker meetings about Chinese life and customs. During these lectures they would dress up and act out aspects of Chinese life, their six year old son Robin demonstrating the use of chopsticks, for example. A collection of Chinese objects was used to illustrate their lectures. While in Britain they visited The Horniman Museum and spoke with Frederick Horniman, himself a Quaker, who bought 338 items of their collection for £81.00. They returned to China in 1896 and spent about forty years there altogether. See Levell, N., The Translation of Objects: R and M Davidson and the Friend's Foreign Mission Association, China, 1890-1894. In Shelton, A., ed., (2001) Collectors: Individuals and Institutions. The Horniman Museum & Gardens. pp.129-162.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: enquiry@horniman.ac.uk