Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Woman's Informal Robe with Butterflies

Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
late 19th–early 20th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Embroidered silk satin
Dimensions:
Overall: 53 x 82 in. (134.6 x 208.3 cm)
Classification:
Costumes-Embroidered
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George F. Miller, 1970
Accession Number:
1970.145
Not on view
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.

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