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A FINE EMBROIDERED PURPLE SATIN MANCHU WOMAN'S INFORMAL ROBE, CHANGYI
A FINE EMBROIDERED PURPLE SATIN MANCHU WOMAN'S INFORMAL ROBE, CHANGYI

LATE 19TH CENTURY

Details
A FINE EMBROIDERED PURPLE SATIN MANCHU WOMAN'S INFORMAL ROBE, CHANGYI
LATE 19TH CENTURY
Worked in satin stitch on the front and back panels with butterflies flitting amidst peony, chrysanthemum, prunus, peach and lotus, within borders of pale turquoise decorated with flowers and butterflies, and black decorated in a manner similar to the main panels and repeated at the collar, with edgings of gold and black wan fret, all picked out in vibrant shades of pink, blue, turquoise and mauve against a bright purple ground, the pattern repeated on the cream-colored satin cuffs
55 in. (139.7 cm.) long x 55 in. (139.7 cm.) across

Lot Essay

The decoration of this striking robe is replete with auspicious meaning. The blossoming prunus is both symbolic of fortitude, since it blossoms in the depths of winter, as well as longevity. The inclusion of the butterfly (die) reinforces the idea of long life, as it is a homonym for a septuagenarian or octogenarian. The chrysanthemum and lotus are regarded as two of the 'Four Gentlemen of flowers', the other two being bamboo and orchid. Chrysanthemums are mentioned in such early classical literature as The Book of Odes, and are symbols of longevity and wealth as well as being the flowers representing autumn, and the lotus is a symbol of integrity, as it blossoms unsullied by the muddy water from which is rises.

The narrow sleeves and wide borders, as well as the decoration, are typical of the fashions worn by young Manchu noblewomen associated with the court of the Dowager Empress Cixi.

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