Lot 3028. A rare chestnut embroidered gauze dragon robe for an imperial prince, Qianlong period (1736-1795). Estimate HKD 400,000 - HKD 600,000Price realised HKD 650,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2017  

The reddish-brown gauze ground is finely worked in couched gold threads and counted stitch with nine five-clawed dragons on the front and back panels, and one on the underflap, the dragons chasing flaming pearls amidst a ground of multi-coloured clouds interspersed with bats and precious objects, above a hem of cresting waves tossed with further auspicious objects, and the lishui stripe, with midnight-blue borders at the collar and cuffs further embellished with striding dragons and related motifs, and midnight-blue ribbed sleeve extensions. 42 3/4 in. (108.5 cm.) long, 66 1/2 in. (169 cm.) wide.  

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong in 1995

Note: In summer, the Manchu rulers and nobility exchanged their heavy satin robes for lighter garments made of silk gauze to allow for better ventilation. The gossamer quality of the material, coupled with the rich chestnut colour on this robe, provide a perfect foundation for gold couching and embroidery carried out in multi-coloured thread, creating a strong visual contrast and three-dimensional effect.

The current robe was probably made for a first-rank prince, his heir apparent or a second-rank prince. The colour of this robe is known as jiang in Chinese, which is written in two characters interchangeably meaning either ‘dark red’ or ‘sauce’. It was a popular choice of colour for robes during the Qianlong period, and was particularly favoured by the Emperor himself.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 29 November 2017, Hong Kong