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WMA1912.21 three blues san lan.jpg

Han Dress

Han women regularly wore long pleated skirts that were decorated with intricate embroidery. Short robes with long, wide sleeves were worn over the skirts. Although Han women were banned from foot binding, they continued the practice into the 20th century.


Ancestor Double Portrait
Watercolor on paper

Family members commissioned ancestor portraits to pay respects to their deceased relatives and bring honor to the family. It was important to create a faithful likeness of a person, otherwise offerings couldn’t reach them in the afterlife. Ancestors were painted in their most formal clothes to show their wealth and status. We can tell this couple are Han Chinese from their distinct Han clothing. 


                                            Celia Edwards ‘22

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Ao Robe
Embroidered Silk Satin

This late 19th, early 20th century robe of fine satin is rich in auspicious imagery. The main motifs are gourds and butterflies, delicately embroidered in light blues and gold against the dark black background. The inner sleeves fold back to reveal colorful flowers.

                                             Rahul Basu ‘22

Xiapei Vest

Embroidered Silk
WMA 1948.2.5

Xiapei are vests that displayed the social status of the wearer over their robes. An undecorated square on the front and back of the vest was reserved for a mandarin rank badge. This particular xiapei was likely worn by a female of imperial status due to the imperial dragon saved exclusively for the royal family.

                                      Evelyn Manchester ‘24


Wild Goose Rank Badge

Kesi Tapestry Silk
WMA 1948.2.6

The wild goose centered on the badge identified the wearer as civil servant of the 4th rank. Birds identified civil servants, where as animals identified military ranks. The curved tail and comma shaped wing tips characterize the wild goose.

                                                 John Rose 21’

Lotus Slippers
Embroidered Silk
WMA 1943.2

These slippers were sewn to perfectly emphasize the beauty of small feet - only five inches long, protecting the bound feet. The use of Han purple silk represents wealth. 

                         Jada Wesley'24

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