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    Sale 2623

    Dowager Empress Cixi: Elegance of the Late Qing

    3 December 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 2261

    AN EXTREMELY FINE EMBROIDERED BLUE SILK 'LOTUS' INFORMAL ROBE, CHENYI

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EXTREMELY FINE EMBROIDERED BLUE SILK 'LOTUS' INFORMAL ROBE, CHENYI
    QING DYNASTY, LATE 19TH CENTURY

    Worked in a combination of counted silk-satin stitch and couched metallic threads in various shades of blue and tones of silver on the front and back panels, the design of lotus clusters superimposed on a wan fret ground, within borders of blue silk brocade decorated with cranes among clouds, and wider blue borders decorated in a manner similar to the main panels and repeated at the collar, with trimmings of blue, pink and gold wan fret, and additional crane roundels on the cuffs, fastened with five gilt metal ball-and-loop toggle buttons
    53 1/4 in. (135 cm) long


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    The classical tailoring of the current robe with its narrow and layered sleeves and wide borders, as well as the decoration, are typical of the fashions worn by Manchu noblewomen associated with the court of the Dowager Empress Cixi. The decoration of this striking robe is replete with auspicious meaning. The informal dark grey gauze silk is couched with a silver ground of running wan-character fret intermittently embroidered with lotus flowers and cranes on the borders. The cranes stand for symbol of longevity, together with wan-characters reinforces the idea of long life. The Lotus was one of Cixi's favourite flowers. In Buddhism, it signifies purity as well as love and compassion. It is also the flower of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

    Compare to a robe similar in style but with orchid design, dated to the Guangxu (1875-1908) period in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in The Forbidden City : Court Culture of the Chinese Emperors (1644-1911), page 203, pl. 52 and one published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum : Costumes and Accessories of the Qing Court, Beijing, 2005, page 204, plate. 127. Another similar robe with peony and butterfly design is in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, illustrated in Imperial Silks, Ch'ing Dynasty Textiles in The Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, 2000, p. 493. A robe of the same period and style with butterflies and flowers was sold at Christie's New York, The Imperial Wardrobe: Fine Chinese Costume and Textiles from the Linda Wrigglesworth Collection, 19 March 2008, lot 93.

    Provenance

    John Reilly Jr.


    Saleroom Notice

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