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Imperial Woman's Court Robe, China, first half of 1700s, silk, gold-wrapped thread © 2001-2014 The Peabody Essex Museum.

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Second Degree Daoist Priest’s Robe, late 18th century, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Silk, satin, gold wrapped thread, 49 ¼ x 71 ¾ inches. Museum purchase, 2003, E302178 © 2001-2014 The Peabody Essex Museum.

The back of this robe is embellished with a panoramic portrayal of the entire universe. On the right and left shoulder are the sun and the moon, the gold discs represent stars, and the hem is decorated with dragons and waves, representing the seas. Wearing this image of the cosmic order, the priest’s body becomes a mirror that reflects the universe and allows him to communicate with the celestial world.

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Woman's Wedding Tunic and Vest, China, late 19th century, silk, gold metallic thread  © 2001-2014 The Peabody Essex Museum.