Jun 06, 2014


Dragon robe in Song Dynasty

Dragon robe and crown is a sort of costume worn by emperors on the most important occasions in ancient China. Dragon robe refers to the noble dress decorated with rolling dragons while dragon crown is the noble hat.

As a world-famous country of amenity, China has been attaching importance to various amenity-related activities since ancient times. Accordingly, costumes prepared for different amenity-related activities have developed into a clothing system exclusively possessed by China. According to archeological discoveries, crown-costume came into existence early in the Shang Dynasty. It was a kind of grande toilette worn by the emperor and supreme officials of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty on ceremonious sacrificial occasions. Due to the enhancement of emperor's rights in later dynasties, dragon robe and crown became the costume exclusively prepared for the emperor, and even, served as a token of the emperor. In the feudal society with rigid hierarchy, costume was an important symbol for distinguishing the noble and humble as well as class differences. For this reason, dragon robe and crown acted as a symbol of imperial power other than a top-grade dress. Making dragon robe and crown privately at that time was perceived to be a crime as serious as rebellion.


Exquisite dragon robe and crown is a prime of Chinese ancient costume with rich cultural context. The dragon embroidered on the robe demonstrates the worship of dragon totem in ancient China, while the shape of the crown (slightly round front and square rear) contains the cultural content of  Round heaven and square earth. The exquisite and graceful dragon robes and crowns preserved in the Palace Museum are an embodiment of supreme dressmaking technique in ancient China. Moreover, they can reflect the aesthetic consciousness in traditional Chinese culture.

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