Yuan Dynasty. 13-14th century
This type of braided waist band robe was in vogue as costume for men in north China during the Yuan Dynasty. With overlapping collar and front panels opening to the right, this robe has fitting sleeves, a gathered waist and a very loose bottom, an outfit suited for horse riding and hunting. The distinctive feature in this costume is the braided band stitched onto the waist section. The band, usually 15cm in width, is formed by lining up either multiple cords of twisted strips of silk tabby or heavily braided silk threads. The costume is documented in the Yuan Chronicles, Costumes as “Braided Band Robe”. This fragment of the left shoulder is what is left of such a robe. The ground material is a patterned twill with floral scrolls. Embroidered onto the ground in gold couching technique are some clouds, the moon and a bunny inside of it. Although the original right shoulder is missing, it is assumed that the right shoulder bears another embroidered roundel representing the sun and that it should have a three-legged bird in it. Such a combination of motifs with the sun and moon on a different shoulder of a robe is widely recorded in Yuan literature, and also matches, down to the same position, the decorative patterns of the sun and moon on the imperial ceremonial robe of the emperors. This arrangement reflects the prevailing concept of man’s identification of oneness with nature at that time.