Daoist priest’s robe
Unknown artist, Chinese; Qing, China
Daoist priest’s robe, 19th century
Silk, metallic yarn, tapestry weave
Center back length: 135.3 cm (53 1/4 inches)
Bequest of Miss Lucy T. Aldrich 55.242
Of the several types of Daoist priest’s robe, this poncho-style vestment is considered the most formal. The highest-ranking priest wore it during one particular category of ritual, that of ‘going out.’ Only in these observances is the priest seen by the public, and this voluminous robe conceals secret ritual movements while simultaneously revealing the priest’s power and status. The complex program of images it bears shows the Daoist conception of the cosmos on the upper back, as well as additional motifs and figures related to Buddhist and Confucian beliefs. Religious Daoism evolved during the Tang Dynasty (618—906) along the lines of Buddhism.