Daoist Priest's Robe
, c. 1850-1900
Silk satin with silk and gilt thread embroidery; couching, satin, chain, and brick couching stitches
Center Back Length: 53 inches (134.6 cm)
Purchased with the George W.B. Taylor Fund, 1967
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- What sort of garment might this be?
- Are we looking at the front or the back?
- What designs do you find in the borders? On the red background? In the round medallions?
- Who might have worn such a robe? On what occasions?
Art Activity: Make a Miniature Robe
This robe is decorated with Daoist symbols in a perfectly symmetrical composition. Have students create a design for a Daoist robe by folding a piece of drawing paper in half lengthwise. Outline half a robe shape on it so the sleeve points away from the fold. Cut around the shape you have drawn then unfold the paper to display a perfectly symmetrical robe. Decorate the
robe with colored pencils. Be sure to keep the design symmetrical as well. Finally, paint a thin layer of watercolor over the drawing and the blank areas.
Group Activity: Symmetry and
The design principles of symmetry and asymmetry greatly affect how we feel
about what we see. When design elements
are arranged symmetrically (like in
a typical chair), the design feels solid,
balanced, formal, and still. When elements
are arranged asymmetrically (like in the
design of the Nike swoosh), we sense
movement, informality, and a casual air.
Man-made things are often symmetrical.
Nature almost never is. Divide students
into small groups and have each group
collect examples of symmetry and
asymmetry in common objects around
them. Make a collage chart of objects
discussed in two columns, and also a list
of adjectives that describe the designs.
Have each group present their chart to
the rest of class.
Research Project: The Dao
Learn more about Daoism and its founder
Laozi. Research the Internet and books on
religion to learn the principal features of
this philosophy and religion. What are the
differences between the philosophy of
Daoism and the organized religion that
grew up around it? Why is immortality so
important to Daoists? By what method is
it achieved? Compare these religious
notions to ones that students are more