shan (Robe)

About this object

History of use

Everyday wear. This style of woman's robe, which is part of a suit (aoku), originated with the Manchus, a northern nomadic tribe who ruled during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Both men and women wore the same style of suit until men stopped wearing the overlapping top. Women continued to wear this style until the mid-to-late 19th century. It was cut very wide, with long wide sleeves and reflected the wealth of the owner. Originally worn over matching pants; later worn over a skirt by the middle and upper classes.


Sold through a consignment store in Vancouver, by a great-grandchild of the original owners.

Iconographic meaning

The lavender colour indicates it was worn by a younger, unmarried woman.

Physical description

Robe, hand-sewn of light blue-lavender silk, with a stand-up collar, long sleeves, a front opening that overlaps to the right side below the armhole and has six frog closures. There is a pocket on the inside flap and a slit at each side seam.