Lot 2153. An extremely rare embroidered blue silk dragon robe for a seventh to ninth rank civil official in the imperial board of state music, jifu, Early Guangxu period, circa 1885; 53 1/4 in. (135.3 cm.) long x 90 1/2 in. (229.9 cm.) across. Estimate HKD 300,000 - HKD 500,000. Price realised HKD 750,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2013
The vibrant marine-blue ground is finely embroidered in satin stitch with five four-clawed dragons, unusually designed with a single large dragon coiling around the neck of the garment, with its head facing left on the chest as it clutches a 'flaming pearl' in its claw, its sinuous and muscular body straddling the upper back. The decoration is above pairs of dragons on the front and back panels hovering above the terrestrial diagram andLihua stripe at the hem. The overall ground is embellished with lengthy cloud clusters picked out in shaded tones of blue, the dragons worked in blue and vibrant purple shades, their scales carefully rendered and delineated by couched gold outline, the stripe in shades of green, ochre, blue and further purple from which issue auspicious emblems. The matching black collar and cuffs are worked with further matching dragons, and faintly corded black sleeve extensions, with brocade borders and metal buttons. The pale blue lining of the robe has a black rectangular printed seal on the right-hand closure.
Provenance: Purchased London, late 1970s
Literature: G. Dickinson and L. Wrigglesworth, Imperial Wardrobe, Berkeley and Toronto, rev. ed., 2000, pp. 165 and 167, pls. 147-148
Exhibited: Fitchburg, Massachusetts, Fitchburg Museum of Art, Costumes from the Forbidden City, May 1989
Note: This robe is discussed by G. Dickinson and L. Wrigglesworth in Imperial Wardrobe, op. cit., p. 167, where the robe is identified as the property of the Board of State Music, a department of the Board of Ritual. It is noted that such a robe would have been worn by a sub-director of the board who would have had the seventh rank.
Christie's. Imperial Sale; Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 29 May 2013, Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall