Title:Manchu Woman's Unofficial Informal Court RobeArtist:Artist UnknownDate:1875-1908Creation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:The John R. Van Derlip FundAccession Number:41.74.7
This impressive garment displays a scattered scheme of gold shou medallions (representing long life) and multicolored flowering narcissus bulbs against a blue satin ground. Datable to the Kuang-hsu period (1875-1908), it displays prominent shou medallions in a style that was popular in the private court of the Empress Dowager T'zu-hsi. This gown reportedly belonged to her personally. The fragrant narcissus is a beloved flower of the New Year and a harbinger of spring. This flower originated in Europe, but was known in China by the T'ang dynasty (618-906) having been imported through the Middle East along the Silk Road.