A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu 19th century

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Lot 115*
A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu
19th century

Sold for £ 112,562 (US$ 156,788) inc. premium
A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu
19th century
The robe worked in satin stitch in shades of blue, green, red and pale violet and couched gold threads on the front and back panels, with nine five-clawed dragons pursuing 'flaming pearls' amidst clusters of clouds interspersed with bats, auspicious motifs and the Twelve Symbols of Imperial authority, all reserved on a rich Imperial yellow ground above the terrestrial diagram with lishui stripe at the hem, with dark blue-ground cuffs, collar and sleeve bands decorated with further dragons and clouds. 149cm (58 5/8in) long.

Footnotes

  • 十九世紀 明黃緞繡五彩金龍十二章紋吉服袍

    Provenance: Anne Moen Bullitt (1924-2007)
    Christie's London, 15 May 2009, lot 317

    Anne Moen Bullitt was an American socialite, philanthropist, and horsebreeder. Her father, William Christian Bullitt, was the first American ambassador to the Soviet Union and later became his country's ambassador to France under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In her youth she was regarded as a great beauty, and was known for assembling a wardrobe of rare and valuable classic haute couture items. She bought a 700-acre estate in County Kildare, where she enjoyed much success and fame in Ireland as a horse owner, breeder and trainer, and became the first woman in Ireland to be granted a racehorse trainer's licence.

    來源:Anne Moen Bullitt(1924-2007)舊藏
    倫敦佳士得,2009年5月15日,拍品編號317

    Anne Moen Bullitt,美國名媛、慈善家及賽馬培育者。其父William Christian Bullitt曾任首位美國駐蘇聯大使,後在美國總統羅斯福任內任美國駐法大使。 Bullitt女士天生麗質,並以其品味獨到的經典高級女裝收藏而聞名。她在愛爾蘭基爾代爾郡購置了佔地700英畝的莊園,進行賽馬的培育和訓練,並成為了愛爾蘭首位獲得賽馬訓練師執照的女性,在育馬界獲得了巨大成功和聲望。


    Delicately embroidered with nine five-clawed dragons riding the heavens and worked in metallic gold and silver threads amidst a profusion of trailing clouds interspersed with the Twelve Symbols of Imperial Sovereignty, the present robe is a rare example of festive garments worn by the highest-ranking female members of the Qing society. Unlike robes worn by men, female garments lacked the two vents at the front and back.

    Robes decorated with designs drawn from the repertoire of court symbols, such as the dragons, reinforced the privilege of an educated and sophisticated elite focused on the power of textiles to convey social status to the viewers. The quintessential symbol of Imperial power, five-clawed dragons embodied royalty and dominion and expressed the visual metaphor of the good ruler who behaved wisely for the well being of his subjects. The Twelve Symbols of Imperial Authority further reinforce the emperor's essence over eloquence, articulation, forcefulness and vigour. According to the 'Book of History' (Shujing 書經), the legendary Emperor Shun, believed to have ruled during the third millennium BC, referred to these symbols as suitable decoration for Imperial formal attire and in 1766, the Qianlong emperor restricted the use of these motifs to imperial robes. See G.Dickinson and L.Wrigglesworth, Imperial Wardrobe, Berkeley, 2002, pp.14-30.

    A rigid scheme defined the position of the Twelve Symbols on the robes. The sun, moon, stars, and mountain, symbolised the four main ceremonies at which the emperor presided throughout the year at the Altars of Heaven, Earth, Sun and Moon. They were placed in pairs at the shoulders, chest and mid-back area. The paired dragons, the golden pheasant, the confronted ji character and the hatchet, represented all things on earth and the ruler's ability to make decisions. They decorated the chest area, while the sacrificial vessels, the aquatic grass, the grains of millet and the flames, representing ancestor worship and four of the Five Elements, were placed at the mid-calf level of the coat.

    The seven-shaded lishui bands are flawlessly woven and include the aniline purple tone, which was imported into China from Europe circa 1863 and was highly favoured by the Dowager empress Cixi. See R. Silberstein, Vicious Purple or a "First Class Dye"?: Finding a Place for the Foreign in Nineteenth-Century Chinese Dress Culture, Paper presented at College Art Association Annual Conference, New York, 2013.

    Compare with a similar yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol robe, 19th century, a slightly later example, also a woman's robe, illustrated in Secret Splendors of the Chinese Court: Qing Dynasty Costume from the Charlotte Hill Grant Collection, Denver 1982, pp.60-61.

    A similar yellow-ground robe embroidered with the Twelve Symbols, 19th century, was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 November 2011, lot 3143.
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A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu 19th century
A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu 19th century
A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu 19th century
A rare Imperial embroidered yellow-ground Twelve-Symbol dragon robe, jifu 19th century
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