This magnificent Antique Chinese midnight blue silk satin robe with lavish silk embroidery, couched gold-wrapped thread and Forbidden Stitch on the sleeve cuffs was created during the Qing Dynasty c. 1880 and would have been worn for 'semi-formal' occasions by Chinese ladies of the time. It is fully lined in a vibrant blue light silk damask.
Embellished with THIRTY FOUR complete 13.5cm roundels/medallions, which are elaborately embroidered with flowers and moths in a striking multi-color silk thread over the whole front and back of the robe. This design is interspersed with fanciful embroidered designs, highlighted throughout with couched gold-wrapped thread. The outside of the imperial yellow silk damask cuffs of both sleeves each present an impressive, solid 19" (49 cm) long x 3.5" (9cm) wide band of incredible floral Forbidden Stitch including peonies, chrysanthemum and blossom, couched gold-wrapped thread and are edged with a 1.5cm black and white ribbon applique depicting butterflies and flowers. There is a narrow ribbon applique along the front closure, the hem and up the side slits. The front closes with four silk frogs, the top one being secured by one carved gold tone metallic brass/bronze round button. Mandarin collar.
This outstanding, museum quality robe (see met museum records for similar) is an absolute, well preserved treasure with its lavish and so intricately skilled embroidery, colors and presentation. Although it remains completely 'wearable', this exquisite piece could, of course, be framed to make a most striking decorative display!
Length from Shoulder to Hem – 112cm (44”); Length across Shoulders including Sleeves – 135cm (53”); Length from armpit to armpit 74cm (29”); full circumference of chest 148cm (58"); width of sleeves at cuff – 43cm (17”); Circumference of hips – 152cm (60"). Side slits 46cm (18") long.
Condition: Age related breakdown and fraying of collar lining. There is no loss to the outer silk of the collar. The frayed lining could be replaced and restitched. Separation between lining and silk satin under right armpit of 11cm and under the left armpit all the way to the top of the slit of 30cm. Some light soiling to inside collar and slight fading to the yellow silk on the inside of the cuffs. Very slight loss in places to the couched gold-wrapped thread throughout. The narrow ribbon needs re-tacking in a few places. I have been advised by an expert in Asian textiles that any damage should be left untouched prior to sale. However, none of these small issues represent any serious damage and could be rectified by an experienced seamstress. Otherwise exceptionally good, clean condition commensurate with age.
This robe is one of four pieces of superlative Antique Chinese silk apparel which came from my family and would have been purchased during the 1920's to 1940's. I have had them assessed by an expert in Oriental/Asian textiles who has confirmed that they are indeed Qing Dynasty and has given an appraisal for value, which I have followed on the conservative side. I have seen some similar pieces, albeit less lavish, displayed in major museums including the MFA in Boston and the MET in New York.
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