Man's jifu (dragon robe) - ROM2004_969_21

ROM2004_969_21

Man's jifu (dragon robe)

Medium:Silk tapestry (kesi) worked in two shades of gold
Geography: Made in China, modified in Tibet
Date: 1675-1700
Period: Kangxi (r. 1661-1722), Qing Dynasty
Dimensions:
146 x 188 cm
Object number: 974.368
Not on view
DescriptionThis semi-formal court robe is made of tapestry-woven silk and gold-wrapped thread. It is decorated on both front and back with a large front-facing dragon writhing among clouds over a diminutive and stylized mountain surrounded by crashing waves. On each shoulder a smaller dragon has been added to extend down the sleeve. The dragon is a supernatural beast. The Chinese believed that it could cause rain—an important need in a basically agricultural country. Over time, it has become a symbol of masculine vigour and fertility as well as imperial authority. Robes with five-clawed dragons were restricted to the use of the emperor, the heir-apparent and high-ranking princes, although an emperor could bestow the honour of wearing one on lesser officials. The dominant image of the dragon on this robe was adopted from the Ming (AD 1368-1644) style by the Manchu conqueror at the beginning of the Qing dynasty (AD 1644-1911). Later designs for dragon robes would not have this feature. In its present state this robe has been altered into a Tibetan man's robe (chuba). The original horse-hoove shaped cuffs have been discarded. Material cut from the inner flap at the side closing have been used to extend the sleeves and fill in the areas under the arms. The front and back vents have been sewn together.
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