Robe For A Statue (China), late 18th century
Medium: silk, metallic Technique: plain weave with discontinuous wefts (slit tapestry) Label: silk and metallic slit tapestry (kesi). Museum purchase from Au Panier Fleuri Fund. 1960-32-2
What is this?
Small robe, possibly for a statue, with a tiny rounded neckline and asymmetrical closure, with yellow silk ties at the neck and side; side openings are edged with bright blue silk. In yellow silk tapestry weave, kesi, with metallic gold dragons on the front, back, shoulders and sleeves. The ground is filled with clouds motifs in blue and green; flaming pearls, bats, and other auspicious symbols. At the bottom is a deep wave border of multicolored diagonal stripes.
This small robe was most likely used to clothe a deity statue in a Daoist temple. The 5-clawed dragon and the bright yellow color were symbols of the Emperor of China, indicating that this robe was an imperial donation to a temple or used to clothe an image of a legendary emperor.
Why is this important?
This tiny late 18th century dragon was most likely used to clothe a deity figure in a Daoist temple. The 5-clawed dragon and bright yellow color were symbols of the Emperor, indicating that this robe was either an imperial donation to a temple, or was used to clothe a statue of a legendary emperor.
Dragon robes originated in the Liao dynasty (907-1125) and continued to be worn until the late Qing (1644-1911). The robe features dragon medallions surrounded by blue and green clouds, flaming pearls, bats and other auspicious symbols. The pattern scheme and motifs on this example indicate that it dates to the late Qing (1644 -1911).