Emperor’s twelve-symbol festival robe


Qing dynasty (1644–1911)), Qianlong period (1736–95)

Not on view

Official costumes in imperial China were highly regulated, and the decorative motifs of court outfits were specific to rank. Among the emblems used on the emperor’s ceremonial robes were the twelve imperial symbols, as seen on this example: the sun, the moon, constellations, mountains, a pair of dragons, birds, ritual cups, water weeds, millet, fire, an ax, and the symmetrical fu symbol. These symbols, said to have been used since ancient times, represent the emperor’s righteous rule over the universe. The festival robe, also known as a dragon robe, was used for various ceremonies, such as festival banquets and military inspections.

Emperor’s twelve-symbol festival robe, Silk and gold and silver thread embroidery on silk twill, China

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