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The Secret of the Chinese Imperial Robe

2016-12-01 15:37:04Share:

  All ministers must wear court dresses when they went to court in ancient times, no exceptions, not even for the emperor. The court dress of the emperor is now what we called the Imperial Robe.

 

  The original imperial robe was black

 

  As early as the pre-Qin period, the monarchs owned the unique robes as the symbol of possessing the highest ruling power of the country. Now that we see all kinds of yellow imperial robes from TV operas is not authenticable. The primitive robes were not yellow and the robes in following dynasties were in different colors and never the same.

 

  According to Book of Rites, in the Zhou Dynasty, “the emperor wore Tsing”; in Spring and Autumn Period, the robes were as multifarious as currencies; after the first emperor unified the countries, as the first emperor of the history of China, he not only selected black as the base color of the robe, but also “all civilians should wear black from clothing, hat to even flags”. You can imagine it was completely black through the country.

imperial robe

 

  After the First Emperor’s death, the Qin Dynasty was soon vanished as well. However, the emperor's tradition of wearing black robes did not end because of the regime changed. after emperor Liu Bang founded West Han dynasty, wearing black was inherited till Emperor Liu Heng.

 

  The first yellow imperial robe was to wear by Emperor Liu Heng of the Han Dynasty

 

  The color of the robe changed drastically in Emperor Liu Heng, West Han period. Han emperor Liu Heng abandoned the black and changed itto yellow. He was the first emperor who wore yellow on record. But it did not become popular because of him.

 

  After Han dynasty vanished, West Jin dynasty was unified. The rulers of the surname Sima regime in the Jin Dynasty did not follow the Qin dynasty nor follow the Han dynasty in the question of the emperor's robes.Instead, they used "red as the expensive", so the robes of the Jin Dynasty were all red.

chinese history

 

  After the demise of the Western Jin Dynasty, through the Eastern Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties hundreds of years of war, the final reunification was archived by Sui Dynasty in China. From the beginning of the Sui and Tang dynasties, people started advocating " yellow for nobility",and the yellow robes since then started being popular. Emperor Sui Wen’s robes were apricot yellow. Emperor Sui Wen was a very enlightened emperor that allowed not only the emperor but also civilians to wear yellow. At this point, his brother-in-law Tang emperor was not as so open-minded.

 

  After the Tang Dynasty,the emperor also wore yellow robes, the emperor Li Yuan thought if civilians wore yellow also would not show the royal majesty. So he ordered “only noble members are allowed to wear yellow”. Ever since, the coming dynasties almost had similar provisions, people were no longer wear yellow anymore and yellow had become the most noble colorfor royals exclusive.

 

  Compared to yellow, red robes were more common

 

  We’ve all heard about the story of “draped with the yellow robe”: The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period,Zhao kuangyin mutinied in Chen Bridge. his men put on a yellow robe and made him the emperor. From this story we can see that the color yellow had become a symbol of imperial power

 

  However, in addition to Song Taizu, many emperors after him wore red robes, which we handed down from the Song Huizong and Song Gaozong portraits.Why is there such a change?Ancient royal families payed attention to the doctrine of the five lines of carrier, Song dynasty was fire and red represents fire so the emperors of Song wore red robes.

chinese history

 

  In fact, the first red robe of the emperor dates back to the Han Emperor.As we have said before, Han Wen is the first emperor in the history of Chinese emperors to wear yellow robes. Not only that, he is the first to wear red robes also.Since then the Jin Dynasty, the Song Dynasty emperors were all wearing robes that is red.

 

  Not only that, the people of Ming Dynasty also loved red,the Ming Dynasty advocated fire, fire is red,and the Ming Dynasty emperor surnamed Zhu, Zhu is also the meaning of red,soMing Dynasty used red as a solid color.In fact, the emperors of Ming dynasty did not always wear bright yellow robes as in the movies.Ming robes hadcolors of Sue (white), Xuan (black),yellow, red, etc. and were based on the Five Elements Colors. the four colors of the robes were formal robes and they could be worn on court.

 

  To the Qing Dynasty, the emperor's robes were bright yellow-based, could also use golden, apricot and other colors. Due to historical factors, the current survival robes are mostly from Qing Dynasty. Qing Dynasty court clothing is China's top weaving craftsman designed and produced, not only used gold and silver lines, also peacock feathers and silk woven together, its impeccable in workmanship and color matching.

 

  Typically, producing a robe needs three or four professionals at the same time, and it takes at least a year or two to complete. At present, the largest collection of robes is the Imperial Palace in Beijing with more than 20000 pieces of royal robes.

 

  Folk collection robes volume is very small, so it often creates high records on the auctions! In 2006, a rare Qianlong inlaid robewas bided 14.68 million yuan in Hong Kong. In 2008, a lack of horseshoe sleeves, sleeves and cloud collar of the Qing Dynasty Yongzheng robe in Guardian also had 69 million Yuan deal!

 

  Even with such a transaction price, in the view of professionals, the price is still not high. Compared with the traditional porcelain, calligraphy and painting works, imperial robesare representatives that affect emperors’ carry-on items. They not only have long producing period, also superb technology and nearly extinct. Those are the advantages that ceramics and paintings don't possess.