Not currently on display at the V&A

Explanatory text about the imperial robe

Illustrated Manuscript
1736-1795 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

"The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty" is an illustrated manuscript commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor (r.1736-1795). The main body of the commission began in 1750 and was completed in 1759. It was a conclusion of the Emperor's decade long efforts to regulate the ritual codes and procedures as a means of ruling since his enthronement, and serves as a record of the Emperor's passion for a rigid ritualised life.

As one of the major imperial commissions the book is of monumental scale and collaborative in nature. As many as twenty-seven court painters and calligraphers were working on the commission under five editors-in-chief, Yilu (1695-1767), Jiang Pu (1708-1761), Wang Youdun (1692-1758), Guanbao (?-1776) and He Guozong (?-1766). After editing and further expansion in the ensuing years, the manuscript was printed by the Palace Publications Office in the Wuying Palace in 1766, and it was finally included as part of the Four Treasures imperial library project in 1773. For that purpose seven copies were produced and stored in libraries across the empire. The book consists of six parts - ceremonial vessels, scientific equipments, dress, musical instruments, insignia, and weaponry, containing more than 1300 leaves of illustrations and explanatory texts.

The museum's collection of the manuscript is incomplete. All its leaves, together with those in the British Library, in the National Museums of Scotland and in the National Museum of Ireland, may have been part of the version kept in the Wenyuan Pavilion library in the Yuanming yuan Summer Palace, Beijing.

The current two pages bear an explanatory text about the materials and the use of the imperial robe. The text may be translated as follows: "The Imperial Robes. Note respectfully: According to the regulation of the present Dynasty, their colour are dark blue, and they are embroidered with four coiled-up five-clawed, full-faced golden dragons, with one in front, one at the back, one on the left shoulder and one on the right shoulder. On the one of the left shoulder is arranged the sun, and on the one of the right shoulder the moon, while on the back and front is embroidered the seal script of the characters ‘wan’ or ten thousands and ‘shou’ or longevity. In the intervals are five coloured clouds. In Spring and Autumn they are lined with cotton. In Summer they are made of gauze, and in Winter of fur, all according to the seasons.”


Object details
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Illustrated Manuscript
  • Illustrated Manuscript
Materials and techniques
Ink on silk
Brief description
Page of the illustrated manuscript "The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty." It bears an explanatory text about an imperial robe.



Page of the illustrated manuscript "The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty." It bears an explanatory text about an imperial robe.
Physical description
Two pages of "The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty", an illustrated manuscript commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor (r.1736-1795). The book consists of six parts - ceremonial vessels, scientific equipments, dress, musical instruments, insignia, and weaponry, containing more than 1300 leaves of illustrations and explanatory texts. They bear an explanatory text about the imperial robe. The text is arranged in nine columns.
Dimensions
  • Height: 42.3cm
  • Width: 41.3cm
The measurements refer to per page
Style
Marks and inscriptions
Object history
The main body of the commission began in 1750 and it was completed in 1759. As many as twenty-seven court painters and calligraphers were working on the commission under five editors-in-chief, Yilu (1695-1767), Jiang Pu (1708-1761), Wang Youdun (1692-1758), Guanbao (?-1776) and He Guozong (?-1766). After editing and further expansion in the ensuing years, the manuscript was printed by the Palace Publications Office in the Wuying Palace in 1766, and it was finally included as part of the Four Treasures imperial library project in 1773. For that purpose seven versions in total were produced and stored in libraries across the empire.

The museum's collection of the manuscript is incomplete. All its leaves, together with those in the British Library, in the National Museums of Scotland and in the National Museum of Ireland, may have been part of the version kept in the Wenyuan Pavilion library in the Yuanming yuan Summer Palace, Beijing.

These two pages belong to the first of four groups of leaves from the manuscruipt acquired by the museum. The museum purchased this group from a certain Walter H. Harris, the son of a builder, a director of Schweppes, in 1895.
Production
Reason For Production: Commission
Summary
"The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty" is an illustrated manuscript commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor (r.1736-1795). The main body of the commission began in 1750 and was completed in 1759. It was a conclusion of the Emperor's decade long efforts to regulate the ritual codes and procedures as a means of ruling since his enthronement, and serves as a record of the Emperor's passion for a rigid ritualised life.



As one of the major imperial commissions the book is of monumental scale and collaborative in nature. As many as twenty-seven court painters and calligraphers were working on the commission under five editors-in-chief, Yilu (1695-1767), Jiang Pu (1708-1761), Wang Youdun (1692-1758), Guanbao (?-1776) and He Guozong (?-1766). After editing and further expansion in the ensuing years, the manuscript was printed by the Palace Publications Office in the Wuying Palace in 1766, and it was finally included as part of the Four Treasures imperial library project in 1773. For that purpose seven copies were produced and stored in libraries across the empire. The book consists of six parts - ceremonial vessels, scientific equipments, dress, musical instruments, insignia, and weaponry, containing more than 1300 leaves of illustrations and explanatory texts.



The museum's collection of the manuscript is incomplete. All its leaves, together with those in the British Library, in the National Museums of Scotland and in the National Museum of Ireland, may have been part of the version kept in the Wenyuan Pavilion library in the Yuanming yuan Summer Palace, Beijing.



The current two pages bear an explanatory text about the materials and the use of the imperial robe. The text may be translated as follows: "The Imperial Robes. Note respectfully: According to the regulation of the present Dynasty, their colour are dark blue, and they are embroidered with four coiled-up five-clawed, full-faced golden dragons, with one in front, one at the back, one on the left shoulder and one on the right shoulder. On the one of the left shoulder is arranged the sun, and on the one of the right shoulder the moon, while on the back and front is embroidered the seal script of the characters ‘wan’ or ten thousands and ‘shou’ or longevity. In the intervals are five coloured clouds. In Spring and Autumn they are lined with cotton. In Summer they are made of gauze, and in Winter of fur, all according to the seasons.”
Bibliographic reference
Medley, Margret. "'The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Ch'ing Dynasty' in the Victoria and Albert Museum." in Transactionsof the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol.31, 1957/59, pp.95-105. Liu, Lu. "An Illustrated Manual for Regulating the Qing Society: A Discussion of Several Issues Relating to 'Huangchao liqi tushi'." in Palace Museum Journal (Beijing), no.4. 2004, pp.130-44.
Collection
Accession number
816&A-1896

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Record createdFebruary 7, 2005
Record URL
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