These are artificial flowers made of fine woven silk in exact imitation of natural ones in respect of colour and shape. They are made in several steps: starching and dyeing of the material, shaping and pasting. The art of making silk flowers is believed to have originated in the imperial palace; such flowers are therefore also known as gonghua, or palace flowers.
In a famous painting of Palace Ladies by Gu Kaizhi (c.345-406) of the Jin Dynasty, the ladies are shown to be wearing flowery ornaments artificially made, showing that silk flowers have had a history of at least 1,500 years.
Silk flowers may be worn as personal ornaments or given away as presents of good taste and personal touch. Needless to say, they are welcome substitutes in seasons when fresh flowers are hard to come by.