Woman's Robe

Woman's Robe


Silk and gold thread: embroidery on silk gauze ground; silk lining, silk batting

Overall: 130 x 177 cm (51 3/16 x 69 11/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1995.20



The robe is embroidered on the back with clouds and paired phoenixes (associated with female members of the imperial family). Single phoenixes and clouds occur at the shoulders. On the front, fragments of another large pair of phoenixes remain. The birds and clouds are set against a scrolling vine pattern embroidered with gold thread, of which only the gold leaf remains. The design was drawn and then embroidered with silk and gold threads on lengths of fabric (gauze backed with silk) before they were cut and seamed. The robe was then lined with silk batting between the layers for warmth. Toward the end of the Liao dynasty, rules for wearing Khitan-style dress (overlapping toward the left) became increasingly relaxed. This may explain the robe's front overlap toward the right, which accords with Chinese custom.

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