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Lot 80. Rare robe de cour en brocart de soie céladon pour une princesse impériale, jifu, Chine, dynastie Qing, XVIIIème - XIXème siècle. Estimate EUR 20,000 - EUR 30,000 (USD 21,186 - USD 31,779)© Christie’s Images Limited 2016.

A rare celadon silk brocade court robe for an imperial princess, jifu, China, Qing dynasty, 18th - 19th century

De couleur vert céladon rehaussé de nuages multicolores, elle est brodée de fils d'or et polychromes sur les deux faces et sur les manches de quatre dragons à cinq griffes représentés de face enroulés autour de la perle sacrée, la gueule ouverte. La partie inférieure des deux faces sont similairement décorées de deux dragons féroces émergeant des flots tumultueux se répétant aux extrémités des manches. Hauteur : 142 cm. (55 7/8 in.)

NotesThe jifu is a Manchu noble’s most common formal public attire. It is a full-length garment with tapered sleeves and horse-shoe cuffs. This type of garment is proscribed in great detail in the sumptuary regulations commissioned by Emperor Qianlong in ‘Huangchao liqi tushi’ in 1759 (Illustrated Precedents for the Ritual Paraphernalia of the Imperial Court). The decorative elements, such as the powerful imperial imagery of dragons, symbolizing the ‘Son of Heaven’ and his rightful mandate, along with various landscape elements such as mountains and seas, signifying the vast territory of the empire are all determined in this document. 

Jifu are made using a variety of techniques, materials and colours, for instance kesi, satin and so on to suit the pocket and status of the wearer. Qing, namesake of the dynasty, also means clarity in Chinese and shades of pale blue and green thus became fashionable at the beginning of the dynasty. The Emperor Yongzheng was represented wearing robes of this colour in the album Emperor Yongzheng at Leisure(Yongzheng xingle tu, housed at the Palace Museum in Beijing). It is a color only permitted to be worn by members of the imperial family.  

Compare to similar examples in the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (acc. No. 42.8.3, see Imperial Silks: Ch’ing Dynasty Textiles in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 2000, p. 32-33.) and one dating from the Yongzheng period in a private collection (published in Nengfu Huang and Juanjuan Chen, Zhongguo Longpao [Chinese Imperial Robes], Beijing, Zijincheng and Lijiang Chubanshe, 2006, fig. 213). This design in a shorter version is taken up in theatre as a martial attire from the mid Qing period and on (see Cultural Relics of Drama of the Qing Dynasty in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, The Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2008, p. 98.).

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Manchu Man's Semiformal Court Robe, 1662-1722. Silk brocade. L.55 in. (backseam). The John R. Van Derlip Fund (42.8.3). Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Christie's. Art d'Asie, 14 December 2016, Paris