Daoist Dignitary Robe, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 17th–18th century
Satin, metallic thread; Overall 54 x 73 in. (137.2 x 185.4 cm)
Bequest of William Christian Paul, 1929 (30.75.3)
This ritual mantle made from red satin embroidered with silk and metallic threads dates to the late seventeenth or eighteenth century. The back of the garment features a large roundel with a pagoda and medallions at either shoulder depicting the sun and the moon. Surrounding these images are twenty-four lozenge-shaped clouds in blue, green, and red that frame auspicious symbols. The black-and-gold borders of the cloak are further embellished with Daoist symbols, including cranes, deer, clouds, mythical creatures, and, on either side of the center front opening, the blue dragon of the east and the white tiger of the west. The mantle would typically have been worn during rituals featuring music, dance, and recitation.
One episode in the transmission of this garment is revealed by an inscription on its inner lining that states that the mantle was acquired in the twelfth year of the Guangxu era (1886) by a Zou Zhenlong from the Shenhuo Temple for use in the Guanyu ancestral temple.