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AN IMPERIAL MIDNIGHT-BLUE GAUZE WOMAN'S SURCOAT, LONGGUA
AN IMPERIAL MIDNIGHT-BLUE GAUZE WOMAN'S SURCOAT, LONGGUA
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PROPERTY FROM THE FAMILY COLLECTION OF GENERAL JOSEPH W. STILWELL
AN IMPERIAL MIDNIGHT-BLUE GAUZE WOMAN'S SURCOAT, LONGGUA

JIAQING PERIOD (1796-1820)

Details
AN IMPERIAL MIDNIGHT-BLUE GAUZE WOMAN'S SURCOAT, LONGGUA
JIAQING PERIOD (1796-1820)
The midnight-blue gauze robe is woven with eight integral dragon roundels displaying five-clawed dragons clutching and chasing flaming pearls against a ground of dense ruyi-form clouds. The roundels at the shoulders bear two of the Twelve Symbols of Imperial Authority, the sun on the right and the moon on the left, and the hem is decorated with auspicious symbols rising from the roiling waves and lishui border.
53 x 68 ½ in. (134.6 x 173.9 cm.)
Provenance
The Collection of General Joseph W. Stilwell (1883-1946), acquired in the early twentieth century, and thence by descent within the family.

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Lot Essay

Imperial noblewomen wore surcoats called longgua or 'dragon coats' with semi-formal court dress. Eighteenth century sumptuary laws specified two distinct styles. The first was decorated on the body with eight roundels and a rainbow-striped hem. A second style was decorated with up to eight roundels, but had no striped hem. The primary means of identifying the wearer's rank were the number and portrayal of the dragons; front-facing being superior to profile dragons. The first style was restricted to the empress and imperial consorts of the highest ranks. Imperial consorts of the fourth and lowest rank had front-facing dragons on the upper body but highly conventionalized kui dragons in the lower four roundels, and were not permitted to have the striped hem.

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