Manchu Man’s Semiformal Court Robe
Man’s Court Robe
Mid-1800s, Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Silk with metal thread and paint
Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of Miss Louise Steele
This kind of robe was worn for festive occasions or court ceremonies. Fifteen blue dragons, all with five claws, are embroidered into the dark brown silk. During the early period of the Qing dynasty, this kind of five-clawed dragon was restricted to garments worn by the emperor and empress. As time went on, the court had to increasingly offer this privilege to officials or generals for their service in wars or other matters. As a result, the costume hierarchy system became less strict. In addition to traditional Chinese auspicious signs such as bats, this robe also has Buddhist and Daoist symbols.
Nine five-clawed blue dragons inhabit the clouds. The slanted, multi-colored stripes (lishui) at the bottom of the robe represent standing water above which the ocean surges and waves froth. At the front, back and sides, rocks representing the four directions rise up. Above in the skies are numerous red bats signifying happiness or good fortune. In roundels are attributes of the Eight Daoist Immortals, while the Eight Buddhist Precious Things appear in the waves and on the body of the robe.
- "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)