Fluttering among the longevity medallions on the body of this robe and its contrasting sleeve bands are scores of delightful butterflies. The butterfly is usually an auspicious design associated with joy and weddings, but, as its name (hudie) is a pun for "age seventy to eighty," it is also a symbol of longevity. This robe might have been appropriately worn for many auspicious occasions, including birthday celebrations.
A careful look reveals that the seemingly random placement of butterflies is actually subtly symmetrical: the insects mirror each other on either side of a vertical axis running down the center of the robe.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)," December 8, 1980–August 29, 1981.
Jacksonville Art Museum. "Empress Dowager," December 1982–May 1983.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art," February 27, 2010–November 28, 2010.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Spirited Creatures: Animal Representations in Chinese Silk and Lacquer," October 21, 2017–July 22, 2018.