19 March 2008,
New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Price Realised USD 22,500
A FINE EMBROIDERED MANCHU WOMAN'S INFORMAL CORNFLOWER-BLUE SILK LONG VEST
Finely embroidered front and back with double-gourds in couched gold-wrapped thread borne on leafy vines with green tendrils against a ground of rich cornflower-blue silk, within black borders of similar gourd vines interspersed with shuangxi (Double Happiness) symbols bordered in ribbon woven with flowers and butterflies, lined in salmon-colored silk
56½ in. (143.5 cm.) long
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The shimmering double-gourds, delicately rendered in luxurious gold-wrapped thread, provide a striking contrast to the brilliant cornflower-blue silk ground. The gourd, with its numerous seeds and swelling form, was a natural symbol of fertility, an association which is reinforced by its extensive network of vines and tendrils, suggesting continuity and generations of descendants. The image of the gourd growing on a vine formed the rebus guadie mianmian ('May you have numerous descendants').
Purchased at auction, London, late 1970s.
Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Fitchburg Museum of Art, Costumes from the Forbidden City, May 1989.