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  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1770-1820 (embroidered)
    1900-1911 (tailored)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk satin with gilt thread. Lined with silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir Steven Runciman

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This robe may have been made from embroidered lengths originally intended to be tailored into a dress for a female member of the royal family. The dress textile itself is beautifully embroidered, and the lengths may have been intended for an Empress's chaopao (ceremonial robe) or jifu (formal robe). However, the robe may never have been worn by an Empress. It is possible that the robe might have been assembled at a much later date than when the dress lengths were made: the construction of the robe does not follow standard design, and the trims used on different parts of the robe suggest a latter-day intervention.

Physical description

Formal court robe for a woman of yellow silk satin embroidered with silk and gilt thread.

The embroidery shows 9 five-clawed dragons: three on the back, three on the front left, one on either shoulder and one on the front right. ‘Ruyi’ cloud forms, bats and flames are also depicted, with mountains and waves around the hem. The embroidery is executed in satin, knot and stem stitch with some couched work

The lower portion of the sleeves and the flared ‘horse hoof’ cuffs are of dark blue silk having an embroidered cuff band with a similar design to the body of the robe, but on a smaller scale. The robe has bands of blue and gold tissue with a design of dragon roundels and Buddhist symbols round the front opening, the hem, side slits and sleeves. A narrow band of black and gold tissue with a key pattern outlines the neck and arm holes.

The skirt is slit up either side for three-quarters of the length. The garment is fastened by three loops and buttons. It is lined with blue silk.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1770-1820 (embroidered)
1900-1911 (tailored)



Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk satin with gilt thread. Lined with silk


Length: 138.5 cm, Width: 113.03 cm

Descriptive line

Formal court robe for a woman, made of embroidered silk satin with gilt thread, China, 1770-1820, possibly tailored 1900-1911

Production Note

Embroidered dress lengths possibly tailored between 1900-1911

Subjects depicted



Textiles; Women's clothes; Formal wear; Embroidery


East Asia Collection

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