Manchu woman’s informal outer coat, 1875-1899. Silk and metal thread embroidery on brushed wool, length: 56 in, 142.24 cm; width: 58 in, 147.32 cm. Neusteter Textile Collection: Gift of James P. grant & Betty Grant Austin, 1977.201 © Denver Art Museum.
The type of red, brushed wool fabric seen in this coat was originally used for English soldiers’ uniforms. Highly desirable for its vibrant color, it was imported into China and fashioned into temple banners, wedding hangings, and garments, such as this rare survivor. Although it is a winter coat, the robe is embroidered with plum, chrysanthemum, cymbidium, and bamboo--flowers and foliage from different seasons. This auspicious collection of blooms invites prosperity while the butterfly signifies joy.