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Phoenix Palaces and Peony Gardens

  Identities and Aspirations in the Qing Dynasty  

The lives of elite women in 19th century China played out in their gilded cages deep within palaces, mansions and gardens. Although rarely seen outside the cloistered walls of the home, elite women articulated their identities and aspirations through their carefully curated assemblages. A woman’s layering of garments, the cut, color, and ornamentation identified both her social status and her ethnic affiliation. These garments also served as a cloak wrapping her in auspicious wishes for the season and long life. They might also reveal her hope for both romance, felicitous marriage and male heirs to the family line.  This exhibition features a selection of 19th and early 20th century women’s attire and accessories from the Wright Museum collection, and provides a lens to help interpret fashions from the inner quarters.




Students from the course The Arts of China curated this online exhibition, drawing on works from the Wright Museum's permanent collection of late 19th century and early 20th century Chinese garments and accessories. 

Rahul Basu'22

Celia Edwards'22

Kelsey Hames

Macie Janes'24

Hardika Kashyap'22

Evelyn Manchester'24

Mika Moens

John Rose'21

Ariana Tolu-Honary'24
Jaida Wesley'24

Yang Yu'22

Siwei Zhang'21

Lucy Li'21 assisted with the research and photography for the exhibition.

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