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Formal Court Robe

Created: 1875-1910
Technique: Embroidery

Manchu-Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), China
Silk woven with silk floss; metallic thread embroidery and brass closure ball buttons
Gift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary, donated by Mrs. James E. Hemphill.  1990.34.7

Formal court robes, called qi fu or the dragon robe (as they are best known outside of China), were among the most common type of dress worn by court officials. The style of the garment, fabrics, colors, woven and embroidered symbols, all served to distinguish one’s rank in the court. A court robe has no pocket but was worn with a sash-belt from which would hang such items as small woven bags to hold fans, miscellanea, chop sticks, and more. 

Formal court robes of the Qing Dynasty typically comprise a longer length garment with long sleeves that end in “horse-hoof” cuffs that cover the wearer’s hands.  The cut of the sleeves and the shape of the cuffs allowed for freedom of movement and, in this case, protected the hands from harsh elements – important design features in what was once a horse-mounted warrior society.