The collection of Chinese garments in the Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw encompasses more than ten costumes from the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and the Republic period (1911-1949). The most interesting exhibits include a nineteenth- century woman's caftan of red satin embroidered with dragons and other mythical animals, quite possibly part of a wedding costume. An elegant black caftan embroidered with pastel lotus flowers, birds and butterflies, was brought to Poland as a souvenir of the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905. A caftan of cream coloured damask embellished with colourful medallions and genre scenes, is probably slightly older. The classical cut and high level of the embroidery make it possible to date its origin as the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The only qipao - a Manchurian woman's costume - made of pink damask edged in black border with multi-hued butterflies, could come from 1900-1920. The less numerous men's clothes include a distinctive dark blue 'dragon costume' - the longpao, the official costume of state civil servants from the Qing era, probably from the last years of the Empire. An elegant set composed of a long damask undergarment and a short caftan originates from the Republican period. Difficulties with dating and determining provenances occur not only in the case of the collection featured by the Asia and Pacific Museum. Studies on Chinese costumes conducted by world specialists for long concentrated on official garments, subjected to strict regulations, and paid much less attention to informal costumes (a category encompassing the majority of women's clothes), which only recently have become the object of thorough research. Chinese apparel and fabrics, frequently very interesting, are to be found also in other Polish museums. They are rarely shown, and only a small percentage has been studied and discussed in print. The presented article is the first attempt at a presentation of an entire, albeit relatively small collection.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.