Rectangle Robes

The clothing and textiles of ancient China and Japan

of importance from:

Flight of the Phoenix: Crosscurrents in Late Thirteenth- to Fourteenth-Century Silk Patterns and Motifs
Author(s): Anne E. Wardwell
Source: The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Vol. 74, No. 1, Flight of the Phoenix: Crosscurrents in Late Thirteenth- to Fourteenth-Century Silk Patterns and Motifs (Jan., 1987), pp. 2-35
Published by: Cleveland Museum of Art

Mongol Conquest of Asia: opens trade routes joining the mediterranean to the China Sea.

Great Khan ruled: opened communication from Italy to China.

kublai khan emperor yuan dynasty

  • Chinese territory under the Yuan dynasty
  • the Chagatai empire (encompassing Transoxiania and Chinese Turkestan),
  • the II-Khanid empire of the Near East
  • the Golden Hord which included southern Russia


Marco Polo – Italian Merchant and trades man who served in mongol court.

Silk – important trade, used as a precious gift to Popes, Kings and Nobles.

An example might be something like this tapestry along with yardage for clothing, and robes. Vajrabhairava Mandala


Migration of Motifs and Patterns (repeats of the motifs):

  • Phoenix
  • Horseshoe
  • Islamic Crescent moon
  • Gold Thread
  • Foral
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Paired birds in oval
  • Grapevines
  • Dragons Lions

Examples From China

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Yuan Dynasty Robe


Example from 14th century Italy: Reproduction from piece stored at the MET.



Silk Fragment 13th Century, twill weave, silk and gold


Replicating traditional Mongol dress


The Exhibition of Chinese Court Robes and Accessories
Author(s): Alan Priest
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 12, Part 1 (Dec., 1931), pp. 281+283-288
Published by: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Stable URL:
Accessed: 25-08-2016 00:36 UTC



Qing Dynasty


Symbolism employed in Chinese court Robe deigns:

  • Sea
  • Earth
  • Heaven

Mandarin Squares: military Ranks

Pa Pao (eight precious things) Buddhist spiritual phases

Chi’ i pao (seven pearls)


Qianong Emperor, sixth Qing of China.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 1.30.52 PM.png

Most notable example of craftsmanship, bearing the following elements:

  • 12 Imperial symbols
  • sea, earth and heaven in background
  • nine imperial dragons,
  • in cloud back ground are bats = happiness
  • unusual use of soft pastel shades



Qing Dynasty Monks 1920


Buddist Preist, Song dynasty, 1249 AD.  The robe shown below is from 400 years later.



Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 1.37.03 PM.png

  • Vivid blue color
  • Lotus pattern
  • cut is straight rectangular piece
  • woven in patterns of small squares or actually composed of small squares sewn together, a symbol of the rags buddha wore.
  • Fine needle work, couched in gold thread, Petit point and florentine stitch




Author(s): Helen C. Gunsaulus
Source: Leaflet, No. 12, JAPANESE COSTUME (1923), pp. 1-26 Published by: Field Museum of Natural History
Stable URL:
Accessed: 25-08-2016 00:40 UTC






  • Momohiki – feet protection
  • Waraji: sandles, made of rice straw
  • Udenuki: tight half sleeve
  • Tenugui: small cotton towel to cover the head
  • Kasa: straw hat
  • Mino: rain-cape, plated straw or hemp
  • Koshimino: skirts, of plated straw or hemp



  • Men
    • Fundoshi: White cotton loin-cloth
    • Momohiki: tight breeches, cotton, dyed with indigo
    • Kiaken: leggings, cotton, dyed with indigo
    • harajake: cotton cloth which covers the chest
    • Hanten: short coat, dark blue stamped with white patterns.


  • Women
    • Koshimaki: long petticoat of muslin
    • Yumoji: short petticoat
    • shita-juban: rectangular cloth wrapped around the loins, and short chemise, of white cotton
    • han-jeri: collar
    • naja juban: long skirt reaching to the ankles
    • mayedare: blue headwrap
    • tasuki: hair tie made of cord




Middle Class:

Woman: for formal occasions would wear 2-3 kimono


Brilliantly decorated Kimono are only worn by Geisha (singing girls) or Joro (courtesans)


Kimono: silk, various weaves and weights is used for majority of dress.

  • striped crepe or inconspicuous all over design are preferred for street costume and daily wear.  Heavy crepe used for winter and formal wear.
  • Ceremonial garments: wearer’s crest is printed or woven in five places: sleeves, bust, and back.  they are further decorated or marked with embroidery, paint or woven designs all over the lower part of the skirt. Flowers and nature appropriate for the seasons are chosen.
  • unmarried women wear: grey, brown, mauve and soft blues.
  • Matrons wear more somber shades.
  • wedding robe is white as are funeral garments worn by relatives.


  • Furisode Kimono: colored kimono worn by a bride
  • uchikake: loose coat worn over kimono
  • Hanyeri: collar V shaped exposes
  • shita-juban: under garments
  • Koshimaki: worn over yumoji and shita-juban, make of striking design or scarlet crepe for younger women, matrons where white.
  • obi: sash.  Most costly and orante accessry


  • Maru-obi: dress sash
  • Chuya-obi: everyday sash
  • obiage: pad or bustle folded into the flat knot to hold it out.
  • obijime: silken cord
  • Haori: short coat which reaches to the knees
  • tabi: white cotton stocking
  • Zori: flat sandals
  • Geta: wooden clog







  • Haori: short coat.
  • Kimono: is similar to women’s but collar is longer and the sleeves are shorter.
  • Obi: sash, encircles the waist two or three times.
  • Kaku-obi: stiff silk belt, 4″ in width, tied in a double knot.
  • Heko-obi: wider sash made of soft silk, tied behind in a bow.
  • men of samurai class wore two swords, thrust beneath the belt on the left side
  • Inro: small ornamental case used for seals and medicines
  • netsuke: decortive toggles
  • koshisage / yatate: a pruse and folding fan also might be held by the sash
  • In walking the skirt of the kimono is often tucked up in front under the obi.
  • Dogi: padded jacket
  • Shitagi: under kimono of light color
  • hanyeri: colar exposed
  • hakama: loose trousers worn over the kimono, resembles a divided skirt with six pleats.  Made of dark color.
  • Kami Shimo: Upper garment worn by samurai, made from the same material as the hakama, known as upper and lower.
  • Kata-ginu: shoulder-dress, sleeveless coat, pleasted into narrow waist and flared out at the shoulders to give a wing like effect.


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Court Dress

Women – court ladies did not confine her robes tightly about her waist

  • Junihitoye: twelve single robes.  Four outer robes in this dress.
  • karaginu: Chinese silk of a bright color and cut as very short jacket.
  • hitoye ginu: inner kimono, 9′ from collar to hem
  • itsutsu-ginu: middle robe or go ye: five robes, worn by empress.
  • uwagi: outside robe, purple or bright red silk with gold thread.
  • Mo: ceremonial apron shaped garment, worn in back like a train
  • ogoshi: broad belt, which were attached three pairs of narrow bands.
  • Kake Obi: court costume was narrow band, 5″
  • Uchibakama: long , full and stiff scarlet silk trousers
  • kosode: short white silk chemese
  • akome-ogi: folding fan
  • knu katsugi: long outdoor robe worn over the garments
  • ye-ginu: painted robes worn by ladies in waiting



















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