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Daoist ceremonial robe
清朝 緞地彩繡 仙境日月三清龍鳳雜寶道袍
Place of Origin: China
Date: approx. 1644-1700
Historical Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Object Name: Costume
Materials: Silk with gold embroidery
Dimensions: H. 55 1/2 in x W. 71 in, H. 141.0 cm x 180.04 cm
Credit Line: Transfer from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Albert M. Bender
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Textiles
Object Number: B81M29
On Display: No

Description

Label:

Robes like this were worn by Daoist priests during rituals and ceremonies. Daoism developed in China more than 2,000 years ago as a religion that places humans in both natural and divine worlds.

The back of the robe, shown here, is embroidered with cosmic diagrams. The large disk (center) depicts a palace surrounded by the lunar houses of Chinese astronomy. Above this, three disks represent heavens. To the left of these disks is the sun with a three-legged bird, and to the right is the moon, with a hare making the elixir of immortality. Below the central disk are symbols of the five sacred peaks of China. The remainder of the surface of this robe is decorated with white cranes and phoenixes with long tails, both of which served as mounts for Daoist deities. The lingzhi fungus of immortality and cloud formations enclose the symbolic implements of the Eight Daoist Immortals—fan, sword and flywhisk, crutch, basket, flute, lotus, fish drum, and a pair of boards for keeping time. Among the waves at the bottom are sacred animals, including deer, crane, tortoise, snake (the ancient guardian deity of the north), monster fish, and dragons. Floating on the waves are some of the Eight Precious Jewels.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Asian Embroideries", Asian Art Museum, 4/6/1988 - 7/12/1988

"Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016

Additional Label:

Daoism is a religious system in China that emphasizes adjustment to the “way” (dao), a pattern that pervades all of creation and whose ceaseless changes determine the course of events in the world. The imagery on this robe represents the structure of the cosmos in Daoist thought. By donning it, its wearer symbolically associates himself with the cosmos at large, thus affirming the interconnectedness of the individual with the universe.

The large disk in the center of the robe contains a depiction of the Palace of the Jade Emperor, a supreme god in Daoism. It is surrounded by disks that symbolize the twenty-eight lunar regions identified in Chinese astronomy. Below the large central disk are symbols of the five sacred peaks of China, and above are three smaller disks representing the three Daoist heavens. On either side of the heavens is the sun, with its characteristic three-legged bird, and the moon, within which a hare grinds the elixir of immortality. Thus does the imagery on this robe highlight the association between celestial luminaries, gold, and immortality.

Here the physical ductility of gold has been utilized to create a luminous robe that weaves together themes of divine light and earthly immortality. Indeed, there are many golden images on this robe that evoke themes of both immortality and exaltation, from white cranes to long-tailed phoenixes—even the mysterious fungus of immortality (lingzhi).

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)


Label:

Robes like this were worn by Daoist priests during rituals and ceremonies. Daoism developed in China more than 2,000 years ago as a religion that places humans in both natural and divine worlds.

The back of the robe, shown here, is embroidered with cosmic diagrams. The large disk (center) depicts a palace surrounded by the lunar houses of Chinese astronomy. Above this, three disks represent heavens. To the left of these disks is the sun with a three-legged bird, and to the right is the moon, with a hare making the elixir of immortality. Below the central disk are symbols of the five sacred peaks of China. The remainder of the surface of this robe is decorated with white cranes and phoenixes with long tails, both of which served as mounts for Daoist deities. The lingzhi fungus of immortality and cloud formations enclose the symbolic implements of the Eight Daoist Immortals—fan, sword and flywhisk, crutch, basket, flute, lotus, fish drum, and a pair of boards for keeping time. Among the waves at the bottom are sacred animals, including deer, crane, tortoise, snake (the ancient guardian deity of the north), monster fish, and dragons. Floating on the waves are some of the Eight Precious Jewels.


Exhibition History: "Asian Embroideries", Asian Art Museum, 4/6/1988 - 7/12/1988

"Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016

Expanded Label:

Daoism is a religious system in China that emphasizes adjustment to the “way” (dao), a pattern that pervades all of creation and whose ceaseless changes determine the course of events in the world. The imagery on this robe represents the structure of the cosmos in Daoist thought. By donning it, its wearer symbolically associates himself with the cosmos at large, thus affirming the interconnectedness of the individual with the universe.

The large disk in the center of the robe contains a depiction of the Palace of the Jade Emperor, a supreme god in Daoism. It is surrounded by disks that symbolize the twenty-eight lunar regions identified in Chinese astronomy. Below the large central disk are symbols of the five sacred peaks of China, and above are three smaller disks representing the three Daoist heavens. On either side of the heavens is the sun, with its characteristic three-legged bird, and the moon, within which a hare grinds the elixir of immortality. Thus does the imagery on this robe highlight the association between celestial luminaries, gold, and immortality.

Here the physical ductility of gold has been utilized to create a luminous robe that weaves together themes of divine light and earthly immortality. Indeed, there are many golden images on this robe that evoke themes of both immortality and exaltation, from white cranes to long-tailed phoenixes—even the mysterious fungus of immortality (lingzhi).

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)