VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Dragon robe (long pao)
MVK 9879
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The materials, symbols, and colours used and the fine handicraft with which it was made suggest that the robe was meant to be worn by the emperor himself. It is a very special object in the museum´s collection. The robe is made of exquisite materials such as the yellow silk of the surface and the fine embroidery using different coloured silk threads and even gold and silver thread. The beautifully coloured embroidery can be interpreted as a schematic diagram of the universe: the lower border of diagonal bands and rounded billows represent water from which prism shaped rocks emerge at the four axis of the robe symbolizing the earth mountain. Above is the cloud-filled firmament with the five-clawed coiling dragons as well as the 12 Symbols of the Imperial Authority.

History of the Object
The robe was acquired by Arthur von Scala (1845-1909), a textile industry specialist, who had joined expeditions to textile centers in India from 1869 to 1872 in order to gather information about sales opportunities for the Austrian Cotton Industry in these areas. In 1874 he was appointed director of the short-lived Oriental Museum in Vienna. In this function he travelled to Asia several times and probably bought the dragon robe on one of his travels.

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Type
Textile 
Materials
silk 
Measurements
Width sleeves: 186,5 cm; rim: 111 cm Length 140 cm  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 19th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
19th Century; Tongzhi era (1862-1874) 
Function
 
Acquisition
acquired by the Museum in 1879 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State Property, Republic of Austria 
Museum
Weltmuseum Wien 
Credit line
 

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