Man’s Court Robe
Unknown artist, Chinese; Manchu
Man’s Court Robe, 1736-1795
Silk and gold-wrapped thread slit-tapestry weave (kesi) with fur trim
Center back length: 143.5 cm (56 1/2 inches)
Gift of Miss Lucy T. Aldrich 35.390
The strict rules of dress for the eighteenth-century Chinese court reserved the color yellow for the emperor and his consort’s use. The design of this man’s court robe features not only the imperial five-clawed dragon but other symbols also restricted to the emperor’s use: the sun, moon, mountain, and constellation that represent the four annual sacrifices made by the emperor; the fu character and axe that stand for the powers to judge and punish; and symbols of the natural world that enclosed the emperor within his dominion when he wore the court robe. Stylistic elements such as the width of the bottom border help to date it. Tapestry weaving requires great skill and patience, especially for such a complex design. This robe’s beauty and technical excellence made it worthy of an emperor.