Lot 3351. A rare dark blue silk summer gauze prince's surcoat, bufu, Qing Dynasty, late 18th-19th century; 42 7/8 in. (109 cm.) long x 65 3/4 in. (167 cm.) wide. Estimate HK$800,000 - HK$1,200,000 ($103,658 - $155,487)Price Realized HK$812,500 ($105,253). Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2014

The elegant, deep blue silk patterned ground is worked in counted stitch in two tones of gold and one tone of silver with four roundels containing dragons in pursuit of flaming pearls amidst lotus tendrils above waves enclosed by borders formed of overlapping petals. The dragons are in profile within the two roundels on the shoulder, and front-facing in the front and back. 

Provenance: Sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2004, lot 30

Note: Qing court attire was divided into summer and winter clothing. The date of seasonal change of dress was decided by the Board of Rites and was issued as an imperial edict. The change into summer clothing was in the third lunar month, and change into winter clothing in the ninth lunar month. Regardless of the actual temperature at the time, once the edict had been issued, everyone was required to change into the appropriate seasonal clothing promulgated by the court.

The current robe with its fine gauze material was made for summer. It is woven with two front-facing dragon roundels on front and back, and two profile dragons on the shoulders, indicating that it was made for a first-rank prince.

Christie's. The Imperial Sale / Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 28 May 2014