Silk: satin weave; silk and metal thread: embroidery
Width across shoulders: 226.1 cm (89 in.); length back of neck to hem: 154.9 cm (61 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1983.32
The lavishly embroidered motifs of dragons, clouds, waves, and rocks on this robe form a diagram that symbolizes the universe: the lower horizontal band of waves at the hem represents the oceans that surround the earth, while the prism-shaped rocks emerging from the waves at the sides, front, and back of the coat symbolize the earth. The cloud-filled firmament above the waves shows dragons—symbols of imperial authority. During the Qing dynasty, yellow indicated “imperial” and the color’s use in garments was reserved for the emperor and his consorts. The emperor would have worn this type of court robe at semi-official meetings at court but not when he performed the official state rituals.
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