Silk dancing dress

From Tibet, late 19th - early 20th century AD

Recycling silks

This silk dress is part of a costume that would have been worn for the masked dances performed in Tibetan monasteries. At the time it was donated to The British Museum, most monasteries in Tibet had a collection of masks and elaborate silk costumes, which were brought out for performances during a variety of celebrations. The most striking masked dance was performed at the end of each year. The pointed sleeves of this robe are characteristic of the costume; they would flow elegantly while the dancer swirls and gestures vividly with his arms.

The deceptively plain upper section of the robe would have been covered by other parts of the costume to produce a striking overall effect.

The four-clawed dragon on the robe's skirt and part of the sleeves is normally associated with nobles and imperial officials from the Chinese court. This motif may have found its way to Tibet through the gifts of silks and embroideries that the emperors of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) regularly sent to the monasteries.

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More information


H. Richardson, Ceremonies of the Lhasa year (Serindia Publications, 1993)

, Catalogue of the Tibetan colle, 4 vols. (, 1961)


Length: 147.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1906.12-26.24


Gift of the Government of India


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