The semiformal court surcoat for the emperor was named gunfu, literally 'royal coat,' a name dating back to the Zhou dynasty (ca.1050 - 265 B.C.). Like the ancient name jifu used for dragon robes, this return to original sources was part of the Qing strategy to remake themselves into Chinese emperors. The name was reserved for the emperor's surcoat, which was decorated with four long, or five-clawed dragon, roundels. Those positioned at the shoulders also bore the ancient symbols for the sun and moon, the two most important signs of the Twelve Symbols of Ancient Authority. One of the first references to the garment name in the early eighteenth century Qing court regulations specifies the wearing of the gunfu for the first day of the annual sacrifices at the Altar of Heaven. See S.V.R. Cammann, China's Dragon Robes, New York, 1952, p. 28. By the mid-eighteenth century wearing surcoats over jifu, or semiformal court attire patterned with dragons, was widespread throughout the court.
In addition to the regulation five-color clouds and waves the bajixiang, or eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism have been incorporated at the edges of the roundel.