An extremely rare fragment of an imperial formal court robe (chaofu), intended for the emperor himself. Early Yongzheng, ca. 1725. Five clawed dragons (long) on a yellow ground.
For an identical weaving see: The Collection of the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City, Vol. 51, nr. 16., p. 31.
In their book The Imperial Wardrobe, Dickinson and Wrigglesworth describe in great detail the importance and function of this ‘Robe of State’. Hierarchy and rules as to the use of colours and the type and amount of dragons on clothing were very strict in early Qing days (no comparison with the five claw anarchy of the late 19th century!).
Confined to the chaofu this meant for the emperor yellow and 9 roundels with front facing long (5clawed dragons).
When found this fragment had a very strong yak butter smell. It obviously came from Tibet where it had been part of some sort of ritual textile.
Historically this is very interesting. Emperor Kangxi, Yongzheng’s father, had sent an army to Tibet in 1720 to expell a Mongol invader. From that moment the ties between the court in Beijing and Lhasa were very tight. Yongzheng even converted his secondary palace in Beijing into a Lamasery were delegations from Tibet and monks could stay; a sort of Tibetan embassy.
It must have been one of these early and highest Tibetan delegations who, granted an audience in the Forbidden City, received this imperial textile as a diplomatic gift. Probably not an actual robe but more likely as an uncut weaving from the imperial warehouse.
Size fragment: 59x39cm.
Profesionally framed (66,5x46,5cm) with UV-reflecting glass.
Condition: please study the pictures carefully! there are stains throughout, some tears, fading to the colours, some loss of the gold.
Bear in mind that -regardless of the condition- only a handfull of early 18th century imperial fragments with roundels exist in the world.