Walk in Splendor: A Qing Dynasty Imperial Silk Robe

Silk robe embroidered with crane medallions and peaches and trimmed with yellow brocade.
Early 18th century, Kangsi period (1662 – 1722). Private collection.

My artistic taste slants towards the minimalist, but this elaborate imperial silk robe immediately caught my eye for its harmonious blend of colors and symbols. Most striking are the eight cranes, each with wings shaped like quarter-concentric circles, and eight peaches embroidered on a lovely coral orange background. Eight is a lucky number to the Chinese and cranes and peaches symbolize longevity. The sleeves of the robe are trimmed with yellow brocades. Yellow is an imperial color signifying glory and authority. Brilliant yellow is reserved for the emperor, a muted yellow such as here for his underlings in the imperial household.

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