On this dragon robe, or jifu, the three elements – oceans, mountains and the heavens – symbolize the physical order and harmony of the universe. A dragon represents the power of the emperor. The five-clawed “lung dragon” suggests it was worn by a member of the imperial family or high-ranking official. Fine slit-tapestry weaving and metal-thread embroidery further emphasize the wearer’s status.

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What was the meaning of silk and gold in 19th century China and how has it changed over time?

responded: Apr 26, 2010

Posted by Patricia Bentley

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Garments made of silk and embroidered with gold thread have denoted wealth and status in China since the earliest times. In the 20th century, political upheavals resulted in the new regime of Communism and everything associated with Imperial China was rejected. Mao Zedong wore a suit in a sombre, military style and this became the model for Chinese clothing for many years. The image shows new and old styles of Chinese dress.

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