A woman's gown of ivory silk, painted in a large flowing pattern of peonies, lotus flowers, orchids and grapes. The gown is open at the front with a separate bodice and skirt, seamed at the waist, and elbow-length sleeves. The bodice meets at centre front. The bodice and sleeves are lined with bleached linen. The back is cut in two pieces, seamed at centre back with a pleat on either side for shaping. It tapers to a point at the waist; two casings formed with stitching in the back lining hold reinforcements of cane. The skirt is made of 2 widths of silk with a partial panel either side of the front, curved at the hem. The skirt is finely flat-pleated into the waist seam, and held in place with stitching 2.5 cm below the seam. The hem is faced with cream silk grosgrain ribbon.

The gown was probably made in the 1770s and reconfigured in the late 1780s. The bodice was remade. A wide gathered ruching of the silk, edged with a looped fringe of pink silk gimp, runs from the waist, along the front edges of the skirt, curving at the hem. A narrower ruching, edged with the same fringe decorates the neck line at the shoulders and back. An unpicked length of pinked and scalloped ruching and the pink fringe edges the sleeve cuffs. The same fringe edges the waist seam.

In the late 19th century, the gown was altered for fancy dress. Two darts (now unpicked) were sewn in the bodice fronts, and three pink linen tapes on either side of the front edges. Machine-made net was sewn to the sleeves.

The linen tape sewn to the back waist was added for Museum display.


  • Title: Gown
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1770/1779
  • Location: Guangdong
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 170.0 cm shoulder to hem at centre back approx, Circumference: 81.5 cm bust under armholes approx, Width: 81.5 cm silk, selvedge to selvedge
  • Medium: Silk, linen, silk thread, linen thread, paint; hand-woven, hand-painted, hand-sewn

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