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Imperial court overvest
Place of Origin: China
Date: 1595
Historical Period: Ming dynasty (1368-1644), Reign of the Wanli emperor (1573-1620)
Object Name: Costume
Materials: Silk satin embroidered in canvas stitch and satin stitch, and overembroidered in silver and gold couching
Dimensions: H. 55 in x W. 44 in, H. 139.7 cm x W. 111.8 cm (at skirt); W. 17 in, W. 43.2 cm (at shoulder)
Credit Line: Museum purchase, City Arts Trust Fund
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Textiles
Object Number: 1990.214
On Display: No

Description

Label:

The shape of this sumptuously embroidered vest continued the imperial fashion of the earlier Yuan dynasty, but the decoration is typical of the Wanli reign. Two dragons, rising from rocks and waves strewn with jewels and coral branches, ascend a sky filled with wish-granting clouds. Biting the flaming pearls between their teeth, the dragons clutch the clouds with their clawed paws. These dragons of the Wanli period are characterized by white horns and white spiky eyebrows and whiskers. Their rainbow-colored hair sweeps back beneath their horns. They have white spines and rainbow underbellies, and their snouts resemble the lingzhi fungus near their tails.

An embroidered inscription inside the lapel reads, "Made on the fifth day of the eleventh month, twenty-third year of the reign of the Wanli emperor [equivalent to December 5, 1595]. Length four feet, two liang [slightly more than two ounces] of silk floss [for padding]." This particular day was just two days before the fiftieth birthday (by Chinese count) of the most powerful woman of the period, the Empress Dowager Li, also known as Cisheng Huangtaihou, "Benevolent Blessed Empress Dowager." She was the mother of the Wanli emperor. This elegant vest of superb workmanship was most probably made for the occasion of her fiftieth birthday.


More Information

Inscriptions: Emboidered inside lapel: Made on the 5th day, 11th month, 23rd year of Wanli [Dec. 5, 1595], length 4 feet, used two catties of silk floss
Exhibition History: Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty, Indianapolis Museum of Art, October 26, 2008-January 11, 2009
Label:

The shape of this sumptuously embroidered vest continued the imperial fashion of the earlier Yuan dynasty, but the decoration is typical of the Wanli reign. Two dragons, rising from rocks and waves strewn with jewels and coral branches, ascend a sky filled with wish-granting clouds. Biting the flaming pearls between their teeth, the dragons clutch the clouds with their clawed paws. These dragons of the Wanli period are characterized by white horns and white spiky eyebrows and whiskers. Their rainbow-colored hair sweeps back beneath their horns. They have white spines and rainbow underbellies, and their snouts resemble the lingzhi fungus near their tails.

An embroidered inscription inside the lapel reads, "Made on the fifth day of the eleventh month, twenty-third year of the reign of the Wanli emperor [equivalent to December 5, 1595]. Length four feet, two liang [slightly more than two ounces] of silk floss [for padding]." This particular day was just two days before the fiftieth birthday (by Chinese count) of the most powerful woman of the period, the Empress Dowager Li, also known as Cisheng Huangtaihou, "Benevolent Blessed Empress Dowager." She was the mother of the Wanli emperor. This elegant vest of superb workmanship was most probably made for the occasion of her fiftieth birthday.


Inscriptions: Emboidered inside lapel: Made on the 5th day, 11th month, 23rd year of Wanli [Dec. 5, 1595], length 4 feet, used two catties of silk floss
Exhibition History: Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty, Indianapolis Museum of Art, October 26, 2008-January 11, 2009