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Woman's Surcoat

Created: 1900-1920
Technique: Embroidery

Manchu-Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), China
Silk with silk floss embroidery
Gift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary, donated by Angelia Morrison Harris.  1990.34.10

Noblewomen and court concubines wore this style of surcoat over an informal robe. Within the medallion appears a vase of peonies which were considered the king of flowers in imperial gardens, as well as being metaphors for female beauty and nobility. The striped area above the hem symbolizes water upon which float flowers. In Chinese cosmology, a circular medallion symbolizes heaven while a square medallion symbolizes earth.