In Chinese, the word for “bat” (fu 蝠) sounds like the one for “happiness” (fu 福), so this robe carries a symbolic message of good fortune. The roundels of five interlocking bats surrounding the Chinese character for “longevity” (shou 壽) refer to the “Five Happinesses”: longevity, health, wealth, virtue, and a natural death.
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Title:Woman’s ceremonial robe
Period:Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:first half 18th century
Medium:Silk and metallic thread embroidery on silk satin
Dimensions:54 x 75 in. (137.2 x 190.5 cm)
Credit Line:Anonymous Gift, 1943
Private Collection , New York (until 1943; donated to MMA)
New York. China Institute in America. "Embroidery of Imperial China," March 15, 1978–May 29, 1978.
Comune di Roma. "La Seta e La Sua Via," December 15, 1993–March 14, 1994.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Textiles," August 3–November 15, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Costumes and Accessories of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911)," August 8–October 28, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Textiles," April 18–October 14, 2012.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Textiles: Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection," August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Noble Virtues: Nature as Symbol in Chinese Art," September 10, 2022–January 29, 2023.
Joseph Bell. Metropolitan Zoo. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1985, p. 35.
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