Robe with “All-Weather” Sleeves, Twill Damask with Couched Appliqué

Yuan dynasty, 13-14th century

L 119cm, W 224 cm

The robe has an overlapping collar with right over left, narrow sleeves. This robe has one remarkable feature. The sleeves, worn at full length during winter, could be folded back in the summer and attached to the robe’s back by slits in the fabric at the shoulders. The loops for attaching the bottom portion of the sleeves to the back are located about 16cm above the cuff, and the button they could be attached to is located at the centre of the back of the robe about 14cm below the collar. In the region of the skirt at the back of the robe (to the right) is a pleat of some 33cm of material to form a vent for horse riding. On each of the shoulders of the robe is an embroidered rosette roundel (about 10cm in diameter) flanked to one side by a triangular configuration of a vine-like motif with ruyi shaped fungus and lotus with a width of 24cm at its bottom. The embroiderer first couched wrapped gold threads on a piece of silk textile, with some padding underneath to form a raised outline, and then stitched the embroidered piece onto the robe in the standard procedure of appliqué. Similar designs to the rosette and scrolling vine plinth can be found in some other Yuan costumes.

The damask of the robe’s exterior layer bears a pattern of lozenges against which is a repeated motif of flying birds. The foundation weave is 221/111 twill in S and Z directions to form the lozenges design, on which the flying birds, one row facing leftwards and the other facing rightwards, are in units of 6.8cm in the warp and 7.2cm in the weft direction.

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Capital: Beijing
Region: Asia and the Pacific

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