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The Palace Museum houses over 180,000 pieces in the textile collection. These exquisite holdings include a wide variety of garments, accessories, uncut fabric, and silk cloth manufactured for imperial use on occasions such as grand ceremonies, ritual sacrifices, and inspection tours. The extensive collection provides ample resources for specific topics in the study of textiles and design as researchers explore various aspects of the source materials, manufacturing process, craftsmanship, symbolism, and structural patterns of the emperor’s attire. Moreover, our researchers have exhaustively referenced the historic work Illustrated Precedents for the Ritual Paraphernalia of the Imperial Court. This meticulously detailed and painstakingly accurate imperial polychrome edition compiled during the Qianlong reign (1736-1795) provides a comprehensive and systematic manual for the manufacturing, use, and identification of the pieces in the imperial wardrobe.
The comprehensive work corroborates with the Imperial Household Department’s Wardrobe Archive, which preserves daily records of specific garments worn by the reigning emperor. Combined, these two works serve as a reliable first-hand visual and textual resource for the understanding of the regulation of imperial attire in the Qing dynasty. Additionally, comparisons of the depictions of the garments and accessories in the historic illustrated work with vivid imperially commissioned paintings—both of which were created by imperial court painters—shed light on the manufacturing process, occasion, and mode of dress.
The Qing Emperor’s Wardrobe exhibits six types of distinctive imperial garments, namely, court dress, festive dress, regular dress, travel attire, military attire, and casual wear. Each of these types is presented with their respective features and functions. By providing users with a visually appealing and thorough interactive catalogue, the App illustrates the rules and regulations that guided the use of court apparel in the Qing dynasty. Vivid depictions and high-resolution images show intricate detail. Illustrated explanations of the manufacturing process, three-dimensional models of selected garments, and carefully optimized interactive experiences facilitate exciting visual experiences and unique perspectives. Apart from representing the exquisite craftsmanship and stunningly beautiful embellishments, the App also satisfies some widely shared curiosities surrounding the imperial wardrobe and answers commonly asked questions, such as: Who were the imperially commissioned manufacturers? How were these garments made? How much did one set of clothing cost? Which garments were chosen for various occasions?