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1920s Chinese dragon coat

#7408 $675

Chinese embroidered dragon coat, 1920s

Fine hand embroidery was an art form in China before Marco Polo arrived in the 13th century. Chinese export goods were still popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when this fab coat was made for the Western market. As interest faded after the 1920s, the quality of hand work declined. Modern copies produced in China today are of inferior quality.

The brilliant red satin coat is embroidered with three dragons, the symbol of good luck. The embroidered design rendered in real silver cord could not be pulled through the fabric and sits on the surface with couching stitches to hold it in place. Zoom in on the design to appreciate the masterful technique.

The wonderfully expressive dragon eyes are embroidered with silk floss. The striking two-color design of real silver cord against carmine red satin makes an indelible impression, not least because the glowing red hue is redolent of the dragon's fiery breath.

The stylish coat has a straight cut, wide sleeves, mandarin collar, and vented side seams. The edging and front closures are of ivory satin. The coat is lined with matching red China silk.

It was purchased from a woman whose mother was a member of the Chautauqua Tours. She likely wore the coat in a cultural presentation. Chautauqua was an American cultural movement that flourished from the 1870s until the mid 1920s. There were hundreds of touring Chautauquas with lectures, drama, and historical tableaux.

You can wear the versatile coat with jeans or as evening wear, either in your boudoir or lounging with close friends at a glamorous soirée à la Myrna Loy. In the 1930s, she starred as Nora Charles in The Thin Man films. She set the standard for sophisticated glamour in slinky, bias-cut "Chinese" gowns. ("Myrna Loy" was the Oriental sounding screen name of Myrna Adele Williams of Helena, Montana.)

The condition is Excellent and wearable.

It measures: 50" circumference, 16 1/2" neckline circumference, 24" from the neckline to the sleeve hem, and 41" from the shoulder to the hem.

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