Embroidered green gauze.
A Manchu woman’s domestic semi-formal robe of green gauze, fastening along the wearer’s right side with brass ball-and-loop toggle buttons. The long, straight sleeves end in deep flared cuffs. The body of the robe has a tightly-twined green silk gauze ground, possibly machine-made, and is embroidered with eight roundels of polychrome silk thread. A strip of gold-wrapped threads is couched along the edges, hem and cuffs; machine-made ribbon trimming runs along the cuffs and sides in dark blue damask with gold pattern. The body of the robe is lined in red silk damask with a pattern of roundels and bats, and the sleeves are lined in blue silk.
The bright colors and light, airy gauze indicate that a young lady would have worn this robe in the summer. The embroidery, appearing in a total of eight roundels as well as along the cuffs and hem and scattered over the green background, predominantly contains images of plums and peonies. The embroidery also heavily features frilly-winged cicada moths, which were a symbol of regeneration and eternal youth, and peaches to symbolize immortality. When cicadas are set among flower settings, as these are, they also represent harmonious coexistence with nature. These roundels also contain small swastikas, which are common auspicious symbols for longevity and a multiplication of blessings. The embroidery along the hem of the robe shows the imperial imagery of straight, diagonal waves, populated by the Buddhist precious objects and more peonies. The use of imperial imagery and the presence of roundels point to the robe’s semi-formal function. The embroidery is done mostly in block stitch due to the gauze ground, but the petals of the peonies are sewn in seed stitch.
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