• Sale 2108

    The Imperial Wardrobe: Fine Chinese Costume And Textiles From The Linda Wrigglesworth Collection

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 10

    AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL KESI TWELVE-SYMBOL BLUE-GROUND ROBE, JIFU

    JIAQING PERIOD (1796-1820)

    Price Realised  

    AN EXTREMELY RARE IMPERIAL KESI TWELVE-SYMBOL BLUE-GROUND ROBE, JIFU
    JIAQING PERIOD (1796-1820)
    Finely woven in the split-weave technique with the prescribed nine five-clawed dragons clutching flaming pearls and hovering above the terrestrial diagram and lishui stripe, amidst multicolored ruyi-form cloud clusters interspersed with auspicious emblems such as bats suspending double peach sprays and various renditions of shou characters, the twelve symbols of Imperial authority arranged in three groups of four: the sun, moon, constellation and rock around the neck; the fu symbol, ax, paired dragons and golden pheasant around the body; the pair of temple cups, aquatic grass, grains of millet and flames above the waves, the dragons in gold and the motifs picked out in shades of blue, yellow, red and green, and reserved against a marine-blue ground
    55¾ in. (141.5 cm.) long x 83½ in. (212.1 cm.) across


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    The use of the blue color was associated with the Temple of Heaven, south of the palace, where the Emperor offered sacrifice at the winter solstice and also prayed for rain during the summer months.

    Twelve-symbol blue robes are extremely rare and probably more rare than their yellow counterparts. Compare, however, a very similar kesi example, also dated to the early 19th century, illustrated by R.D. Jacobsen, Imperial Silks, Ch'ing Dynasty Textiles in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, vol. I, Minneapolis, 2000, pp. 82-3., no. 12, which appears to be tailored and narrowed at the sides in a manner similar to the present robe. Another kesi example dated to the Daoguang or Xianfeng period is illustrated by H.E. Fernald, Chinese Court Costume, Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, Toronto, 1946, pl. IX, no. 7. Compare, also, the embroidered fragment of a twelve-symbol blue robe, in the A.E.D.T.A. Collection, dated to the mid-Qianlong period, illustrated by J.E. Vollmer, Chinese Costume and Accessories, Paris, 1999, pl. 14.

    Provenance

    Daniel Vare Collection, Italy.


    Literature

    G. Dickinson and L. Wrigglesworth, Imperial Wardrobe, London, 1999, p. 61, pl. 46.