View full screen - View 1 of Lot 3648. An exceptionally fine and very rare embroidered satin and pearlwork ‘Twelve Symbol’ imperial court robe, jifu, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period | 清乾隆 御製明黃色緞繡緝米珠雲龍十二章紋夾龍袍.
3648

An exceptionally fine and very rare embroidered satin and pearlwork ‘Twelve Symbol’ imperial court robe, jifu, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period | 清乾隆 御製明黃色緞繡緝米珠雲龍十二章紋夾龍袍

An exceptionally fine and very rare embroidered satin and pearlwork ‘Twelve Symbol’ imperial court robe, jifu, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period | 清乾隆 御製明黃色緞繡緝米珠雲龍十二章紋夾龍袍

An exceptionally fine and very rare embroidered satin and pearlwork ‘Twelve Symbol’ imperial court robe, jifu, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period | 清乾隆 御製明黃色緞繡緝米珠雲龍十二章紋夾龍袍

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Property from an important collection

An exceptionally fine and very rare embroidered satin and pearlwork ‘Twelve Symbol’ imperial court robe, jifu

Qing dynasty, Qianlong period

重要私人珍藏

清乾隆 御製明黃色緞繡緝米珠雲龍十二章紋夾龍袍


the rich yellow satin ground meticulously worked on the front and back with eight five-clawed dragons intricately and expertly embroidered with tens of thousands of minute seed pearls, the dragons depicted in pursuit of embroidered flaming pearls, amidst the 'Twelve Symbols of Imperial Authority': the sun, the moon, the mountains, the dragon, the pheasant, two goblets, pondweed, fire, rice, and axe, the stars and character ya hidden by the collar, all among multi-coloured cloud scrolls, and bats, some with sprigs of peonies in their mouths, above rolling and crashing waves above a lishui band, the lower arms left plain, the dark-blue satin horse-hoof cuffs and collar decorated with writhing dragons and bats above waves, with couched gold thread edgings, and patterned yellow silk lining

from neck to hem 145 cm, 57 in.

The robe is in remarkable condition and very well preserved with only minor losses to the pearls on the body of the back left dragon. The top button around the neck and one pupil of the back central dragon are missing. There are a few small areas of light stains to the yellow silk measuring no larger than 3 cm. The collar and sleeve extensions are original.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

Collection of Edmond Fourier, Paris.

Sotheby's Hong Kong, 10th April 2006, lot 1540.


Edmond Fourier 收藏,巴黎

香港蘇富比2006年4月10日,編號1540

M.H. d'Ardenne de Tizac, Les Etoffes de la Chine: Tissus & Broderies, Paris, 1924, pl. 39.

John E. Vollmer, Silks for Thrones and Altars. Chinese Costume and Textile, Paris, 2003, pl. 25.


M.H. d'Ardenne de Tizac,《Les Etoffes de la Chine: Tissus & Broderies》,巴黎,1924年,圖版39

John E. Vollmer,《Silks for Thrones and Altars. Chinese Costume and Textile》,巴黎,2003年,圖版25

An Exceptional Embroidered Satin and Pearlwork 'Twelve Symbol' Imperial Court Robe, Jifu

Fang Hongjun


The decorative style of the present robe is sumptuous and stately, yet the composition is harmonious and well balanced; the colour scheme is evenly formulated. The embroidery technique is exquisite and smoothly executed. It is worth noting that the embroiderer has skilfully utilised the jixian technique, creating a rich texture on the fabric, which contrasts but also provides a harmonious balance with the translucent seed pearl beads on the dragons. The overall visual effect of the embroidered dragons is thus solid and lively.


Bright yellow dragon robes (longpao) fall under the category of ceremonial court dress (jifu) of the Qing dynasty, also known as coloured dress (caifu) and patterned clothes (huayi). They were worn primarily during festivities, such as Lunar New Year, the birthday of the Emperor and Empress, and the Winter Solstice. The present example is a straight long robe, featuring a round collar, curved front overlap closing to the right, horse hoof cuffs, five gilt-bronze buttons and a bright yellow damask-patterned gauze lining with floral motifs. It is a pearlwork embroidery tribute to the Emperor from court officials during the Qianlong period.


On this robe, colour yarns ranging from two to four shades have been used to create the effect of shading and gradation, combining colour interspersing techniques, jianyun and colour gradation technique, tuiyun. The bright yellow brocade ground is embroidered with dragons among clouds, bats, the Twelve Symbols of Imperial Authority, sea waves and cliffs (haishui jiangya) and other auspicious motifs, employing embroidery techniques such as plain stitch (ping zhen), slanting stitch (chanjin), interlocking stitch (taojin), jixian (a Beijing-style of embroidery in which two multi-strands of polychrome threads or horsehair are coiled together and anchored on the fabric with a third strand) and bead embroidery (jizhu). The two shoulders, front and back of the robe, four sides of the hem and the underflap of the robe are decorated with profile dragons; each of the two en face dragons is positioned on the cuffs. On the left and right shoulders the sun and moon are placed respectively; the constellation on the chest, the rock on the back; the left and right sides of the chest are embellished with the axe and fu, behind them the pheasant and dragons; ritual cups and waterweed are symmetrically placed on the front side of the hem, with grains of rice and flame on the back. The Twelve Symbols are placed amidst multi-coloured trailing clouds with soaring bats throughout and shou (longevity) characters in seal script, all supported by wave borders of standing water (lishui).


Seed bead embroidery works (jizhu) are also called pearlwork or beadwork embroidery. The production process was extremely complicated and time-consuming: pearls or coral beads as tiny as rice grains were pierced, then strung together with a silk cord, and finally anchored, string by string, on the designed pattern outlined in-advance until a complete pattern came into shape. This decorative technique creates a sumptuous visual effect; the glittering beads reflecting different lights and colours when viewed from different angles. The complexity of this beadwork embroidery was not limited to the production process; the selection of the seed beads was also laborious and time-consuming. One dragon robe would require the use of tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of seed beads of similar size, quality, translucency and roundness, making the production process unimaginably arduous for the unskilled. Therefore, pearlwork robes were deemed to be exceedingly rare and lavish.


Throughout the history of Qing dynasty, successive emperors introduced various measures to prevent and combat corruption and extravagant practices. According to Veritable Records of the Qing (Qing Shilu):


In the fifth lunar month of the fifth year of Yongzheng reign, the Emperor decreed: “The Imperial Textiles have paid their tribute, and have sent nine imperial yellow dragon robes, as well as heavily embroidered curtains and lamp shades. I am not pleased by the extravagance shown and immediately issued a general edict to inform them of my disapproval. Now the imperial tributes for the Dragon Boat Festival are also overly decorative and extravagant, these only lead to excessive lavishness and vanity, which I loathe. When the provincial governors pay tribute, I often bestow these gifts to officials an the Court and royal princes instead. Yellow silk embroidered with dragons are not to be used by anyone other than myself, therefore many of these gifts end up in the palace storage. I feel uncomfortable using such luxuries, and it is inappropriate if I bestow them on princes and officials at the Court. I am a practical person and I do not enjoy extravagance. I prefer functionality and practicality. I am naturally a man of frugal habits, and have been so for many years. When paying tribute, objects that are better and harder to find in the markets and shops are enough to show loyalty and sincerity, there is no need to find objects that are overly decorative. It is common to be drawn to objects of novelty, and desire of such objects has no limit. Upon seeing a beautiful object, it might spark off feelings of admiration at first, and then one may wish to imitate, but finally it will grow into habits of boasting and competing. This kind of wastefulness and vanity have always been condemned in the past - not only should it be discouraged, it should also be prevented. To rule a country, the respect of moral customs is of utmost importance. Honesty and frugality are to be encouraged. If all government officials follow the cult of luxury, how can we encourage the people to be frugal? Among the four classes, except the scholars, I have the highest regard for farmers. The reason being that all the other classes depend on farmers to feed them, therefore farming is the foundation of society. While workers and merchants are ranked lowest. If we emphasise on the decorative value of objects, it requires more workers to produce such objects - one more worker in the workshops and markets, one less farmer working in the fields. If the public sees that being a worker yields more than being a farmer, there will be too many workers and as a result an overflow of products to be made. When the supply exceeds the demand, the price will fall and as a final result it hurts both the agriculture development and the business. People often see short-term gain and forget long-term goal. It is understandable that one may give up smaller gains and chase the larger profits. If we nip this in the bud all of a sudden, since it contradicts with their wish, it will be difficult to reinforce the laws. Only when you guide them and teach them that farming is the kernel of society, then they will understand that the simplicity, honesty and frugality should be respected. In the long term, this will be deep rooted in our culture…."


While the Yongzheng Emperor’s condemnation of the extravagant practices of some court officials was aimed at setting forth his policy of “supporting the core (agricultural) industry and restrain the minor business”, ”regulate the industrial structure in a reasonable manner”, the Qianlong Emperor’s following remark pinpointed the contemporaneous situation. According to Veritable Records of the Qing (Qing Shilu):


In the tenth month of the forty-first year of the Qianlong reign, the Emperor decreed: ”all provinces were to pay tribute by imperial decree. Yunnan, for example, yielded jade; and Fujian citrus and lychee. It was no different than paying land tax according to fertility and barrenness. Governors followed up with greater honors by bringing antiques to celebrate the Empress Dowager’s seventieth and eightieth birthday, as well as my own sixtieth birthday. The royal family was accustomed to the governors’ good faith within reason. Therefore such gifts passed without notice for every royal birthday celebration. For the sake of friendship between the emperor and his subjects, I received them with consideration, although in fact all kinds of antiques and curios can be found in the imperial treasure house. There are already a considerable amount of tributes and they should accumulate no more. I appointed provincial governors based on their competence and performances, not what they paid as tribute… it’s quite pointless if they do not understand my intentions and boast their extravagance. Furthermore, antiques are in no comparison to daily necessities as beans and grain, food and clothing, therefore no use to hungry or cold people. Originally they were neither precious nor expensive, however reprobates hoarded and manipulated the price once they sensed the need. Some governors made their own purchases, while others appointed their subordinates, who took the chance to fawn on their superiors. This could corrupt the administrative system and should be nipped in the bud. With regard to officers in the capital as the nobilities and first rank court officials, who were allowed to pay tributes previously due to birthdays of the Empress Dowager and myself, continued to do so, one following another, which is undesirable. Especially during festivities, it becomes burdensome and pointless. The Provincial Treasurer of all should not send these kinds of gifts. Recently for those who wish to be granted an audience with me but cannot, I have allowed that they could pay tribute instead. It is of no etiquette after all. In another case of the Inner-Court Hanlin, their task is to write poems on booklets, fans and spring festival scroll, so why should they bother searching for antiques? Recently people have tended to be extravagant in their gifts and have lost sincerity of intention. Yesterday I happened to see some items that entered our offices from the house of Xiong Xuepeng. Among them were such items as an embroidered python robe with seed pearl beads, which certainly comes from his tenure as imperial inspector, either he prepared yet did not present, either he presented and I turned him down. These items cost considerable labor and expense and yet are unfit for use. I strongly condemned such gifts and gave it out forthwith. Remembering my late father, who had admonished Prince Yi (thirteenth son of the Kangxi Emperor) because he paid an extravagant tribute of yellow bedding with seed pearl beads. I (the Qianlong Emperor) abide by the family doctrine and therefore never use material with seed pearl beads. Another example would be the bamboo mats made with ivory silk, which is far less comfortable than the normal mat, therefore also abandoned. It has been a long time since I forbade such gifts so that my intentions are clear. From now on, none of the provincial governors shall present gifts again to the palace other than local tribute. Imperial princes, high-ranking officials, and Inner-Court Hanlin academicians at the capital should also follow this precept. I hereby use this general edict to inform them."


Although the Beijing Palace Museum has a wide collection of Qing imperial textiles, accessories and garments which showcase a great variety of styles and techniques, extant bead embroidery works (jizhuxiu) are still exceptionally unique and rare. Most of the examples preserved today were produced during the Kangxi and Qianlong periods. In the reign periods that followed, the production of pearlwork robes declined drastically, and there is not even any record of such during certain reign periods. This in return proved the truth of the Qianlong Emperor’s effort to clampdown corruption by banning bead embroidery works and denouncing the malpractices of court officials who abused the tradition of tribute gifts to pave their ways for promotion.


明黃色緞繡緝米珠雲龍十二章紋夾龍袍

房宏俊


此袍構圖豪華莊重,平穩對稱。設色豐富而自然和諧。繡工細膩流暢一絲不苟。特別需要指出的是,在龍的鰭、發、髯、口、鼻、指甲及火焰等部位,刺繡者巧妙地運用了頗具質感的緝線繡法加以烘托表現,使得龍身晶瑩潤澤的緝米珠,與之形成既有區別而又自然融為一體的立體效果相得益彰,帶給人們活靈活現呼之欲出的視覺感受。


明黃色龍袍為清代皇帝吉服之一,又稱為「彩服」或「花衣」,主要用於元旦、萬壽、冬至三大聖節以及各種時令節日等重要吉慶場合。此袍式為:圓領,大襟右衽,馬蹄袖,直身式袍。綴銅鎏金鏨花扣五枚,內飾明黃色折枝花卉暗花綾裡。是一件清乾隆時期大臣進獻皇帝的珠繡貢品。


這件作品採取二至四色間暈與退暈相結合的裝飾方法,運用平針、纏針、套針、緝線、緝珠等刺繡技法,在明黃色八枚經面緞地上,緝繡雲龍、蝠壽、十二章及海水江崖等紋樣。其飾兩肩及前後正龍各一,下擺左右、前後及交襟處(底襟)行龍各一,兩袖端處正龍各一。其章兩肩左日右月;前胸星辰後背飾山;兩肋左右前為黼、黻,後為華蟲與龍;下擺左右前為宗彝、水藻,後為粉米與火。間以彩雲飛蝠及長圓篆書壽字,下幅飾以江崖立水紋樣。


緝米珠繡亦稱串珠繡,或穿珠繡。它是先將狀似小米粒的珍珠或珊瑚珠鑽孔,然後再依據紋樣要求,用絲線串連米珠,將其依次釘綴在事先勾勒好的紋樣輪廓線之內,使得填滿輪廓的米珠形成完整紋樣即告完成。這種工藝具有立體感突出,且不同視角折射出不同美輪美奐光澤的裝飾效果。緝米珠繡工藝流程繁複冗長、費工費時,僅鑒選籽粒的品質、光澤以及圓潤均勻程度都大體相當的米珠篩撿工作就要耗費大量時間。加之製作一件龍袍所用米珠需數萬粒甚至十數萬粒之巨,製作難度之大是常人難以想像的。因此,愈顯得彌足珍貴。其奢侈程度可見一斑。


防微杜漸嚴禁奢侈之風,是清代歷朝統治者永恆的話題。據《清實錄》記載:雍正五年五月,「諭內閣,前織造等衙門,貢獻物件,所進御用繡線黃龍袍,曾至九件之多。又燈幃之上,有加以綵繡為飾者,朕心深為不悅,即降旨誡諭。近因端陽令節,外間所進香囊宮扇中有裝飾華麗、雕刻精工者,此皆開風俗奢侈之端,朕所深惡而不取也。向來外省諸臣,凡有進獻方物,朕每頒賜諸王內外大臣。如黃龍繡緞之類,既不可以頒賜,不過收貯於宮中耳。其餘華燦之物,在朕用之心中尚覺不安,若賜親王大臣在伊等亦覺非分,豈非費於無益之地乎。況朕素性實在,不喜華靡。一切器具惟以雅潔適用為貴。此朕撙節愛惜之心,本出自然,並非勉強。數十年如一日者,凡外臣進獻,惟應量加工價,少異於市肆之物。即可見恭敬之忱,何必過於工巧。人情喜新好異,無所底止。見一美麗式樣,初則竟相慕傚;後必出奇鬥勝,此雕文簒組,古人所以斥為奇邪。豈可導使為之,而不防其漸乎?蓋治天下之道,莫要於厚風俗。而厚風俗之道,必當崇儉而去奢。若諸臣以奢為尚,又何以訓民儉乎?朕觀四民之業,士之外,農為最貴。凡士、工、商賈,皆賴食於農,以故農為天下之本務。而工、賈,皆其末也。今若於器用服玩爭上華巧,必將多用工匠,市肆中多一工作之人,則田畝中少一耕稼之人。且愚民見工匠之利多於力田,必群趨而為工,群趨為工,則物之製造者必多,物多則售賣不易,必致壅滯而價賤,是逐末之人多,不但有害於農,而並有害於工也。小民舍輕利而趨重利,故逐末易而務本難。苟遽然繩之以法,必非其情之所願,而勢有所難行,惟在平日留心勸導,使民知本業之為貴。崇尚樸實,不為華巧。如此日積月累,遂成風俗……」。


如果說,清雍正帝上面這段由奢侈引發的話,只不過是他以痛斥奢侈之風為名,實則闡述自己「重本抑末」、「合理調整產業結構」之實的話,那麼,清高宗乾隆帝下面的話,則一針見血切中時弊。據《清實錄》載:乾隆四十一年十月,辛丑,「飭各省貢獻。諭,向來各省督撫,例進方物。如雲南,雲產石;福建柑橘、荔枝之類,隨所產陳獻。仍不外乎任土作貢之義。乃閱時既久,督撫等踵事增華,即有購覓古玩充供者。其始因恭逢皇太后七旬、八旬萬壽大慶,及朕六旬萬壽。各督撫備物以申忱悃,尚非過分,伊等遂習焉不察。於每歲萬壽年節,亦一例呈進。朕因其既已遠致,不得不量收數種,以聯上下之情。其實內府所藏古器珍玩,何物不有,豈藉外間供物以為觀美。且伊等進到者,仍充宴賚分頒之用。今積久愈多,又豈宜復令日漸增益乎。朕簡任封疆大臣,委以地方政務,惟祝奉職程其殿最,豈因進貢衡其短長……乃伊等不能善體朕意,專以此為誇多鬥靡,甚無謂也。況古玩非布帛菽粟可比,餓不可食;寒不可衣,本非貴重之物。而一經各省購覓,市儈即從而高價居奇,其間自行售辦者,固亦有之,而令屬者代備者,恐或不免。並有以多報少,略領價值,以為逢迎結納之具,此於吏治大有關係,不可不防其漸。至在京臣工,如王公及頭品大臣,前因聖母及朕躬大萬壽,准其呈進慶祝貢品,今亦每年鍾以為常,相率效尤,實所不取。且每逢慶節之前,反覺繁冗可憎,又何益乎?至藩司,尤係不應進貢之人。近亦有於陛見時面為陳懇者,朕因業已加恩擢用,難以概行屏卻,遂亦許其呈進略觀,量存一二,究屬非禮。又如內廷翰林,於年節書寫詩冊、詩扇及春帖子恭進,分所應然。又何必以購及古玩為事耶?至近日,人情漸趨於華,殊失淳樸之意。昨偶閱熊學鵬家入官物件,內有珠繡蟒袍,此必伊任巡撫時所辦,或備而未進,或進而未收,俱未可定。此等費工價而不適於用,朕甚鄙之。因即以賞人,並未留御。尤憶皇考時,怡賢親王(即,清康熙帝十三子胤祥。)曾進珠繡黃褥。(雍正)當即飭訓,並諭其過當。朕(乾隆)遵守家法,宮中服御,從不用及珠繡。又如,象牙織簟,工巧近俗,又不平滑使用,遠不及平常茵席之安適,因亦擯而不用。久有旨勿許再進,即此亦可知朕之好尚矣。嗣後各省督撫,除土貢外,勿得復有進獻,在京王公、頭品大臣及內廷翰林等,亦當一體遵照,並將此通諭知之」。


同時,我們通覽北京故宮博物院清代傳世織繡藏品發現,無論是帝后服飾、配飾還是衣料,儘管各種製作工藝門類異彩紛呈應有盡有,藏量也十分豐富。而其中唯獨緝珠繡藏品顯得與眾不同,它們不但藏量稀少,而且基本歸屬於康熙、乾隆兩朝,以後各朝,則少之又少,甚至個別朝幾近於無。這恰恰充分印證了乾隆皇帝這段整肅吏治、嚴禁珠繡,針砭官員巧立名目並將其作為加官進爵敲門磚的歷史事實。