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

清乾隆 刺繡御用十二章吉服袍
Emperor’s twelve-symbol festival robe

Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)), Qianlong period (1736–95)
Culture:
China
Medium:
Silk and gold and silver thread embroidery on silk twill
Dimensions:
Overall: 56 5/8 x 63 1/2 in. (143.8 x 161.3 cm)
Classification:
Costumes-Embroidered
Credit Line:
Gift of Lewis Einstein, 1954
Accession Number:
54.14.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 220
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.
Lewis Einstein , New York (until 1954; donated to MMA)
New York. China Institute in America. "Embroidery of Imperial China," March 15, 1978–May 29, 1978.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)," December 8, 1980–August 29, 1981.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Costumes and Accessories of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911)," August 8, 2007–October 28, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Power and Prestige: Chinese Dragon Robes 18th–21st Century," December 11, 2013–July 6, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Spirited Creatures: Animal Representations in Chinese Silk and Lacquer," October 21, 2017–July 22, 2018.