shan (Robe)

About this object

History of use

Everyday wear. This style of woman's 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. 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.

Physical description

Short robe of lavender silk. End of sleeves encircled by three black bands and two blue stripes at the cuffs and collar, and wavy bands of black and blue silk along the sides and bottom of the body. An opening flap ovelaps on the right side in a curve from the neck to below the right arm. There are six frog closures along the opening and there is a pocket on the inside flap. There is a slit at the bottom of each side seam. The frog closures consist of two flourishes of piping attached on either side of the front opening, one with a loop and the other with a ball-shaped toggle.