oon, you’ll be able to dress up just like a real Chinese emperor — if you have an extra $200,000 or so to spare.
A robe that belonged to the Qianlong Emperor will go up for auction in London on November 8th with the British auction house Bonhams estimating that the item will fetch between 100,000 and 150,000 British pounds ($127,000 to $191,000).
Here’s how Bonhams describes the robe:
The blue silk ground robe superbly embroidered with varying tones of gold and silver-wrapped threads with nine Imperial five-clawed dragons clutching or courting flaming pearls of wisdom interspersed with small petalled flowers arising from a scrolling foliage above rolling waves on the lishui. The Twelve Symbols of Imperial authority are arranged in three groups of four: the sun, moon, constellation and rock around the neck; the fusymbol, axe, paired dragons and golden pheasant around the body; the pair of temple cups, aquatic grass grains of millet and flames nestle on the froth of the waves. Deep blue and gold striped sleeve extensions extend the arm length and dark aubergine-grey silk bands decorate the collar and cuffs, edged with original buttons and brocade edgings, lined with yellow silk damask.
The auction house says that the item was acquired by a British brigadier-general during a visit to Beijing in 1912 and had remained in his family since then.
The Qianlong Emperor (1711- 1799) ruled during the height of Qing dynasty, but also helped to precipitate its decline, infamously rebuffing a delegation from the same country where his robe is now being auctioned off, telling envoy George Macartney in 1793 that:
Our Celestial Empire possesses all things in prolific abundance and lacks no product within its own borders. There was therefore no need to import the manufactures of outside barbarians in exchange for our own produce.
Over the years, a number of items that belonged to the Qianlong Emperor have been sold at auction in Europe, including his imperial seal ($22 million) and his musket ($2.5 million). Another one of his robes also went for $242,000.