Imperial Manchu Man’s Semiformal Court Robe with Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty

Imperial Manchu Man’s Semiformal Court Robe with Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty

1850-1875
Country
China
robe
Woven silk and metal thread tapestry
Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of James P. Grant and Betty Grant Austin
1977.196
. Imperial Manchu Man’s Semiformal Court Robe with Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty. 1850-1875. Woven silk and metal thread tapestry. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of James P. Grant and Betty Grant Austin. 1977.196.
This object is currently on view
Dimensions
length: 53 in, 134.6200 cm; width: 84 in, 213.3600 cm
Department
Textile Art and Fashion
Collection
Textile Art and Fashion-Asian
This bright yellow robe and the auspicious and symbolic images on it are finely woven in tapestry (kesi or ko'ssu) using silk and metal thread. Only members of the imperial family could wear robes of this color. The individual parts of the robe were woven to shape, cut out from a length of fabric, and assembled. In 1759, the emperor added the twelve Chinese symbols of ancient imperial authority to his Manchu court robes, acknowledging the importance of the two-millennium-old images. Related to the sacral duties of the Son of Heaven, the twelve symbols also represent the emperor’s wide-reaching power and Confucian values associated with a worthy ruler. Other auspicious symbols on the robe--the round red wanshou, the swastika-fret pattern and bats--wish great longevity and happiness. The red double-joy symbol, often found on wedding garments, is unusual on an official robe.
Known Provenance
Inherited 1973 by Mr. James P. Grant and Mrs. Betty Grant Austin [Denver, CO, 1922-1995 and 1920-2006]; gifted December 1977 by Mr. James Grant and Mrs. Betty Grant Austin to the Denver Art Museum
Exhibition History
  • "Threads of Heaven: Silken Legacy of China's Last Dynasty," October 30, 2011 - January 29, 2012 (DAM)
  • "Threads of Heaven: Silken Legacy of China's Last Dynasty," Februrary 7 - May 18, 2014 (Taft Museum, Cincinnati, OH)
  • "Creative Crossroads: The Art of Tapestry," May 31, 2015 - March 6, 2016 (DAM)