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Object: Court gown (jifu)

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Title Court gown (jifu)
Production Unknown, Late Qing dynasty, late 1800s/early 1900s, China
Medium summary Embroidered silk
Materials silk
Classification robes, dressing gowns
Dimensions Centre Front: 1475mm (Height)
Sleeve Length: 790mm ()
Overall: 2260mm (Width)
Credit line Purchased 1926
Registration number FE001939

During the Qing Dynasty China (1644–1911), it was not warriors who represented the masculine ideal; it was distinguished scholars and court officials.

This jifu (man's semi-formal court gown) was worn for official duties at court. Its design shows a symbolic universe. The diagonal bands and billowing waves represent the ocean. At the centre front, sides, and back are mountains, while nine dragons inhabit the heavens. In Oriental mythology, dragons represent imperial power, wisdom, and strength.

To determine the wearer’s rank, we can count the dragons’ claws. They each have five, so he may have been a high-level official or a member of the Imperial Family.

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