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Black satin with embroidered vignettes (黑色緞地彩繡人物)

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 the 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 show pavilions packed with personages dressed in the robes of Qing civil officials.

Aside from the paradise flycatcher, which adorns the robes of 9th ranked courtiers in Chinese court life, there are eight more patterns of bird and flower used in ancient Chinese to represent official ranks. Flowers such as peony, tiger lily, plum, orchid, chrysanthemum, and peach blossom each represents different official, as well.

On the lower hem are sea wave patterns embroidered in gold thread. The lower hem is 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 and delicate embroidery, the overall design symbolizes wealth, prosperity, and auspiciousness.


Digital Archives Program of Textiles and Clothing, Department of Textiles and Clothing, Fu-Jen Catholic University