A superb embroidered green-ground silk taoist priest's robe, China, Qing dynasty. Photo Nagel Auktionen

Of rectangular form with wide sleeves, the skirt plied to three folds at each side. Minor tears to the sleeves, minor losses to gold paper, few couched threads loosened. L. 124 cm - Estimate 50 000 €

Cuffs and collar worked with meticulous knot stitch embroidery showing alternating birds and clouds within lobed panels, the hem showing mythical beasts. Flanking the front opening, we see the White Tiger of the West and the Green Dragon of the East, an ancient pair of protective animals. The main motif is to be seen on the back: an elaborate embroidery of a Daoist diagram incorporating the symbols of the sun (cockerel) and the moon (rabbit), the constellation, the symbolic forms of the three mystical Mountains (penglai, fangzhang and yingzhou) and phoenixes to both lower corners of the square diagram. In addition, symbols of longevity like cranes surround the Sacred Mountain scene. The diagram is set against a fine net of couched gold wrapped threads. The complete embroidery is worked with gold and coloured silk threads in knotstitch and couched techniques, the borders show stripes of couched gold leaved paper. Richly decorated vestments like this priest's robe were used in preeminent daoist ceremonies. The astral symbols on the Daoist robe stand for the relation between priest and cosmos. Heaven is symbolized by the multi-storey pagode in the roundel

Property from an old European private collection 

Cf. a similar type of robe shown in Little/Eichmann "Taoism and the Arts of China", Chicago 2000, p. 196 as well as blue-ground silk robe "jiangyi" in rectangular form, which shows identical decoration regarding the main motifs as published Christießs, N.Y., 22.3.2007, Lot 457

Nagel Auktionen. Asian Art. November 5th 2011 www.auction.de