The Splendours of Royal Costume: Qing Court Attire

Emperor Yongzheng in a festive robe. This dragon robe has an ermine fur lining. The chest, back, and both shoulders, the lower front and back, and the inner lapel of this robe are decorated with nine dragons. In ancient Chinese divination, nine was considered the most superior of all numbers, and was thus used to represent the emperor. (Photo: Pan Zai Shu)
Emperor Yongzheng in a festive robe. This dragon robe has an ermine fur lining. The chest, back, and both shoulders, the lower front and back, and the inner lapel of this robe are decorated with nine dragons. In ancient Chinese divination, nine was considered the most superior of all numbers, and was thus used to represent the emperor. (Photo: Pan Zai Shu)

The Splendours of Royal Costume: Qing Court Attire is an exhibition currently being held at the Hong Kong Museum of History, and will continue its run until Oct. 7. Many of the costumes have never been seen outside of Mainland China.

The Qing court costume system was notably the most elaborate and vast of all the dynasties. It strictly governed the wardrobes of the emperor, state officials, and male and female members of the royalty and aristocracy on all formal state occasions, as well as during leisure times in the inner court.

Qing court attire was at the core of the Qing system. It was characterized by having elaborate rules with exquisite details. It maintained a strict hierarchy and a fusion of Manchu and Han cultural elements.

Official costumes were worn on important ceremonial and sacrificial occasions, including the emperor’s enthronement, birthday, the winter solstice, and offering sacrifices to Heaven, the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, and the silkworm God. Official costumes ranked highest among all Qing court attire.

Qing Court Attire

Emperor Kangxi’s quilted ceremonial armor suit and helmet. This armor and helmet were worn by Emperor Kangxi when he inspected the Eight Banners Army. (Photo: Pan Zai Shu)

Qing Court Attire

Court necklaces were worn along court robes. Only the emperor, empress, and empress dowager were entitled to wear pearl court necklaces. The pink color is Coral beads; the middle shows a Tourmaline pendant, and the blue is Lapis Lazuli beads. (Photo: Pan Zai Shu)

Qing Court Attire

Headgear with precious stones. (Photo: Pan Zai Shu)

Qing Court Attire

Crowds seen at the exhibition. (Photo: Pan Zai Shu)

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