Queen's robe of state  

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Object- Queen's robe of state
Date- 1860s
Techniques- (Jacket) Imported velvet, lined with crimson silk satin, heavily trimmed with yet-pya (gold braid), pazun-zi (silver-gilt tinsel cloth) and gold lace
(Bandolette) Velvet, embroidered with silver-gilt wirework and silver-gilt tinsel
(Collar (neckwear)) Velvet and silk satin, embroidered with silver-gilt cord, wire, sequins and beetle wings
(Front piece) Velvet and silk satin, embroidered with silver-gilt tinsel and sequins; fabric stretched onto a shaped bamboo frame bound in red cotton tape
(Shawl) Velvet and silk satin, embroidered with silver-gilt tinsel, sequins, fringe, half-beads, wire, cord and beetle wings

Mandalay (City), Burma

Dimensions
(Jacket) Length 57 cm (shoulder to hem)
(Jacket) Width 44 cm (across shoulder)
(Jacket) Length 44 cm (sleeve)
(Shawl) Length 236 cm (long band)
(Shawl) Width 15 cm (long band, maximum)
(Bandolette) Width 91.5 cm (maximum)
(Collar (neckwear)) Length 66 cm (crosspiece)
(Collar (neckwear)) Width 7.6 cm (crosspiece)
(Collar (neckwear)) Length 25.4 cm (each tailpiece)
(Collar (neckwear)) Width 10.2 cm (tailpiece, maximum)
(Front piece) Length 127 cm
(Front piece) Width 63.5 cm (maximum)
(Bandolette) Width 61 cm (minimum)
(Bandolette) Length 38 cm (tailpieces)
(Bandolette) Width 9 cm (tailpieces)
(Collar (neckwear)) Width 6.4 cm (tailpiece, minimum)
(Shawl) Width 10 cm (long band, minimum)
(Shawl) Length 51 cm (fishtail, maximum)
(Shawl) Width 76 cm (fishtail, maximum)

Current Location- Victoria & Albert Museum
Museum number- IM.45 to C, E, F-1912

This is the elaborate robe of state specially created for one of the chief queens of King Mindon, the penultimate king of the Konbaung Dynasty (1752-1885), who ruled Burma from 1853 to 1878.

Strict sumptuary laws applied to every aspect of life at the court of the Konbaung kings and this particularly applied to dress. Almost every article of clothing was indicative of the individual's rank. The decorative elements and the style of this robe could only have been worn by a person of the queen's rank. Such apparel drew on Indian silver and gilt embroidery work and was inspired by 18th century Thai court dress. Composed of layer upon layer of green velvet and gold decorated pieces with wing-like projections it was not only intended to distinguish the queen from her courtiers, but to suggest an identification with the gods.

However, the Konbaung Dynasty came to an end in 1885 when the entire kingdom came under British rule following a process of annexation throughout the 19th century, and the royal family was exiled to India. Many remaining aristocrats, now stripped of their rank and authority, were almost destitute and glad to part with their possessions. This robe of state was purchased by the donor while serving as a Divisional Judge in Burma at the beginning of the 20th century.

This entry was posted on May 21, 2009 at Thursday, May 21, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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