Imperial Robes 清朝皇袍展

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Yang Li: 眼下伦敦正在举行一个同中国历史文化相关的展览,故宫收藏的一批珍贵皇袍亮相于维多利亚和阿尔伯特博物馆。大家好我是杨莉,欢迎收听《都市掠影》。For the first time in Europe, the Victoria and Albert Museum is showing the magnificent robes worn by the emperors and empresses of the Qing Dynasty, 清朝皇帝和皇后穿过的袍子。Believe it or not even Chinese people in China have not seen them! So how has the exhibition been received by the public? Earlier my colleague Emily put this question to Ming, the curator of the Imperial Chinese robes exhibition at the V&A.

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Emily: Ming, how do you think the exhibition has been received by the general public so far?

Ming: The reception of this exhibition is really great because it is not very often that Chinese robes are shown in the UK, and particularly, it is the first time that Imperial Robes from the Forbidden City, from the Palace museum, are shown in the UK. I write a blog on the V&A website and people have commented on the blog that the exhibition is both very beautiful and very educational.

Ming Wilson

Ming Wilson is the curator of the Imperial Chinese Robes Exhibition at the V&A.

Yang Li: The reception of this exhibition is really great. In other words it has been very well received. 反映很好。下面是第二个问题:为什么维多利亚和阿尔伯特博物馆决定举办这一展览呢?Listen and find out what is unique about the V&A.

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Emily: Why is the V&A, in particular, hosting this exhibition? Why did they bring these items from Beijing?

Ming: Because the V&A has a comprehensive collection of dresses and textiles from all over the world; and the V&A has always been a centre for the study of textiles and fashion. And the Palace museum, although it has this wonderful collection, it basically is not a purpose-built museum. The palaces were built for the emperors and his family to live in. So they do not have a permanent gallery to display these robes. So I think this is a wonderful opportunity, both for the UK audience, and for the Palace museum, so that people can see what objects they have in their collection, which are not normally on display.

An Empress' headdress

One of the beautiful items on display ©The Palace Museum, Beijing

Yang Li: 听出来了吗?The V&A 一直是纺织时装研究的中心,女裙和纺织品收集齐全。而故宫没有专门的永久性的展览厅。 我们刚才听到的关键词语包括:comprehensive collection 收集齐全 dresses and textiles 女裙和纺织品 purpose-built museum 专建博物馆 permanent gallery 永久性的展厅 on display 展出。

Yang Li: As we've heard, the Imperial Chinese robes exhibition has been very well received by the general public. I wonder what our special reporter Emily makes of it.

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Emily: I've just been in to see the Chinese Imperial Robes exhibition, with the curator Ming Wilson. Ming told me there are 85 individual items in the exhibition. And I can tell you they are exquisite; the embroidery and the colours, it's just really beautiful.

Yang Li: There are 85 individual items in the exhibition, the embroidery 意思是刺绣。They are exquisite 精致的。In the next clip Ming describes her favourite piece from the exhibition.

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Ming: I particularly like the double-sided dragon robe for the Empress. I think that is of the most astonishing workmanship, because the embroiderer had to make sure that the dragon pattern comes out exactly the same on both the front and on the inside of the robe. And it would have taken her, I believe, probably three times or four times the time to do it.

Yang Li: 她最喜欢的是皇后穿的双面龙袍 double-sided dragon robe for the Empress. 龙袍两面的图案要完全一致对称,所以她称赞刺绣人的手艺是 astonishing 令人惊讶。刺绣人 embroiderer. Why not take a look at our special photo gallery of the exhibition (below) on our website: bbcukchina.com. 谢谢收听我们下次再会。


The exhibition of Imperial Chinese robes from the Palace Museum, Beijing, contains many beautiful and historic robes worn by the emperors and empresses of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). You can see a special photo gallery of some of the items at bbcukchina.com.

Imperial Chinese Robes photo gallery

  • Emperor's brown gauze dragon robe
    This festive 节庆的 dragon robe 袍子 was worn by Emperor Kangxi who ruled 统治 China for 61 years, from 1662 to 1722. He was the second ruler of the Qing dynasty and the longest-reigning 在位时间最长的 emperor in China's history. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Empress' festive double-sided dragon robe
    For happy occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, festivals and banquets 盛宴, both the emperor and empress would usually wear a festive robe adorned 装饰 增色 with a dragon motif 主题,图形,意念. This yellow dragon robe was worn by the empress in the Qianlong reign (1736-1795) and is embroidered 刺绣的 on both sides. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Emperor's padded stockings
    These padded stockings 棉裤, from the Kangxi reign (1662-1722), are beautifully embroidered with a dragon design 设计. They were worn underneath tall boots. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Empress's court boots
    These court boots 宫廷靴子 were worn by the empress in the Kangxi reign period for official duties 职责. Even though they are for formal wear 正装, they are beautifully decorated 装饰 with flowers. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Flower pot shoes
    Flower pot shoes, named because they look like flower pots, were for more informal 随便的 wear in the Guangxu reign period (1875-1908). They could be seen as a precursor 先驱 to the platform shoes 松糕鞋 popular in the west in the 1970s. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Empress's informal robe with crane design
    The empress and imperial concubines 妾 had less official duties to perform 承担 than the emperor, so they wore informal gowns most of the time. This blue informal robe has a crane design and was worn by the empress in the Guangxu reign period. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Woman's informal outer gown
    This beautiful red floral 花卉的 outer gown could have been worn by any of the emperor's wives in the Daoguang reign period (1821-50) as there was no hierarchy 等级制度 in dress style among them. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Detail of woman's informal outer gown
    A close-up picture of the same gown shows the intricate 复杂的,错综的 detail in the embroidery. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • Woman's informal waistcoat
    Another item of informal female clothing, from the Tongzhi reign (1862-74), is this black sleeveless 无袖子的 waistcoat (jinshen) with a blue and red floral design. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.
  • A length of green brocaded satin
    The emperor and his wives received many gifts of silk as a tribute 贡物 from other Chinese cities. This length of brocaded 织成锦缎的 satin is from the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820) and has used more than ten colours in its design. ©The Palace Museum, Beijing.


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