Friday, 4 February 2011

Year of the Rabbit in Nice, France and the V&A Museum, London

I always know when it is time to come home from our winter's holiday - snaking dragons appear on the sidewalk outside the appartment and drums and firecrackers bring us the terrace balcony to watch the Chinese New Year Celebrations light up the darkness. I wonder how many of us share the trait of the Chinese Rabbit: fortunate, strong willed, hating disagreements, fond of creature comforts, considerate, kind and thoughtful towards others, elegant, shrewd, crafty and hardnosed - what a mix! Do we have to say White Rabbits three times today? This little rabbit comes from an imperial robe that you can see in the fantastic textile exhibition currently running until the end of the month at the V&A in London. Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City shows three centuries of beautiful and historic royal robes worn by the emperors and empresses of the Qing Dynasty, the last ruling dynasty of China (1644-1911). On display are elaborate and exquisite robes, hats, shoes and children's clothes, along with beautifully patterned fabrics created for the fashion-conscious Empress Dowager Cixi and her court ladies. The exhibition also explores the complex rules and conventions specifying which clothes should be worn on different court occasions: from official robes for important rituals to festive dresses for banquets and celebrations, and travelling ensembles for hunting and royal visits to the provinces. On show for the first time in Europe, this is a rare opportunity to see these sumptuous historic garments. Click here for more information.

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