1956
1956

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

A VERY RARE INDIGO BROCADE FORMAL COURT ROBE, CHAOPAO
QING DYNASTY, KANGXI PERIOD
Estimate
3,500,0004,500,000
JUMP TO LOT
1956

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

A VERY RARE INDIGO BROCADE FORMAL COURT ROBE, CHAOPAO
QING DYNASTY, KANGXI PERIOD
Estimate
3,500,0004,500,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

|
Hong Kong

A VERY RARE INDIGO BROCADE FORMAL COURT ROBE, CHAOPAO
QING DYNASTY, KANGXI PERIOD
of full length, with front overflap closing to the right, with tapered sleeves ending in horse-hoof cuffs, the neck opening surrounded by a quadrilobed panel enclosing four front-facing five-clawed dragons amid auspicious clouds, each dragon above a terrestrial diagram flanked by churning wave pattern that forms the outline of the panel, the waistband decorated with a pair of dragons confronted on a flaming pearl, all above a two-paneled pleated skirt decorated with a band of striding dragons in pursuit of 'flaming pearls', a small panel, ren, attached to the juncture where the side opening ends and the skirt begins, the designs all against a damask ground with dragon roundel and cloud pattern,  the edges bordered with bands of couched gold-wrapped threads and brocade with a foliate scroll and lotus design
across the sleeves 212.5 cm., 83 1/2 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Acquired in Paris, 1990s.

Literature

John E. Vollmer, Ruling from the Dragon Throne: Costume of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Berkeley, 2002, p.67, fig. 3.8.
John E. Vollmer, Silks for Thrones and Altars, Paris, 2003, p. 48, no. 20.

Catalogue Note

The chaopao was the formal court robe worn at the Qing court for ceremonial occasions by the highest-ranking courtiers and nobles.  Although it was constructed as a single piece, its appearance echoed its Manchu origins as three separate garments – a riding coat, a hip-length surcoat worn over the riding coat, and a pair of aprons worn over trousers and boots.  John E. Vollmer discusses the construction of such robes in Ruling from the Dragon Throne: Costume of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Berkeley, 2002, p.66, fig. 3.7. The style of the chaopao with the quadrilobed panel encircling the neck opening is believed to have evolved as a result of Ming period bolts of silk or actual Ming robes being restyled into Qing chaopao.

Due to its ceremonial use and ethnic significance, it was the most conservative of Manchu costumes, and because of its association with high status, many Qing period posthumous or ancestor portraits portray their subjects wearing chaopao.  One such portrait is of Boggoda, a Manchu prince of the first rank, wearing a chaopao, very similar to the present lot, in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. and illustrated by John E. Vollmer, ibid., p.65, fig. 3.6.

Compared to other types of Qing court robes, the number of existing chaopao is small.  A chaopao also dated to the Kangxi period in gauze, but with only one dragon encircling the neck opening is in the Palace Museum Collection and illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Costumes and Accessories of the Qing Court, Hong Kong, 2005, p. 220.  Yongzheng, Qianlong and some later examples of chaopao in various colours are also illustrated, ibid., pp.22-35.  A chaopao believed to belong to the Kangxi Emperor in the collection of the Chinese History Museum is illustrated by Yang Ling, Beauty of Tapestry and Embroidery, Taipei, 1995, p. 131, no. 81; and one dated to the mid-19th century  is illustrated  by Robert D. Jackson, Imperial Silks: Ch'ing Dynasty Textiles in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, vol. I, Minneapolis, 2000, p. 58-9, no. 1.

Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

|
Hong Kong