Search by Subject
Search by Institution
Black satin with embroidered vignettes
Late Qing Dynasty (1860~1890’s)
Length: 108 cm
Width: 156 cm
This piece of the late-Qing Dynasty was fashioned after the style of female garments in Han Dynasty, employing a stand-up collar and front-fastening with broad loose sleeves and with 27.5-cm side slits with worm embroidery at the top for reinforcement. 
The ground is of black satin fabric embroidered with symmetric patterns. Located at the front, the back, and the shoulder of the garment, these embroidered patterns symbolize good fortune and longevity. Surrounded by eight threaded geometric patterns that in Chinese culture are an abstract representation of a floral bouquet, the embroidery illustrates pavilions populated with personages dressed in the robes of Qing civil officials. 
Aside from the pie bleue, which adorns the robes of 9th ranked courtiers in Chinese court life, there are eight other bird and floral patterns that represent different official ranks. Flowers such as the peony, tiger lily, plum, orchid, chrysanthemum, and the peach blossom each represents different official, as well. 
On the lower hem are gold thread embroidery of sea wave patterns. The lower hem is also dotted with patterns that symbolize auspiciousness and good luck. The sleeve cuffs of pale rosy satin fabric are trimmed with polychrome flower and butterfly motifs along with patterns that imply joy and luck. It is worth noting that in addition to the fabric button on the collar, there are four pairs of gilt bronze buttons, a pair of which is already missing. With rich and refined colors, as the ground for delicate embroidery, the overall design conveys the bliss of wealth, prosperity and auspiciousness.