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Python robe / Dragon Robe Hanfu

The python robe, also known as the floral robe, is named after the python pattern embroidered on the robe. The formal attire of ancient officials. The embroidered python is not a dragon, but because its claws have four toes, while the royal dragon has five toes, so the four toed (toe) dragon is called a python, hence its name. Also known as Flower Clothes or Python Clothes. Women who have received a decree can also wear it. Python, a specialized name for Chinese opera costumes, also known as python robe.

The style of the python robe is shoulder length with a round neck, a large front (right lapel), wide sleeves (with water sleeves), and the length of the robe is feet long. There is a “hanging slit” at the hem of the sleeves: the entire body is embroidered with artistic patterns of gold or silver thread and colored velvet. The female python is roughly the same as the male python (to be described separately). In ancient times, wearing a python robe was the highest ideal of the literati, which meant being a high-ranking official, prosperous and prestigious.


Definition of Words

Python robe m ǎ N ɡ P á o

Programmatic: A formal dress that is commonly used by people of equal noble status.

According to the “Wild Harvest Compilation” by Ming Shende Fu, the python robe is a garment worn by elephants and dragons, similar to the robe worn by the Supreme One, but with one claw (toe) removed… During any celebration, all officials wear python robes, and during this time, it is called the Flower Clothes Period. If it is Wanshou Day, the first three days and the last four days are the flowering period.

brief introduction

The diagonal lines arranged at the bottom of dragon robes and python robes are called “water feet”. On the foot of the water, there are rolling waves, and on top of the waves, there are mountains, stones, and treasures, commonly known as “Jiangya Seawater”. Seawater can be divided into standing water and flat water. The standing water refers to the tide formed by the diagonal stripes at the bottom of the robe; Pingshui refers to the scaly waves beneath Jiangya. Sea water means tide, which sounds the same as the morning, making it a specialized decoration for official clothing. Jiang Ya, also known as Jiang Ya or Jiang Ya, refers to the stacking of mountains, resembling the sprouts of ginger. In addition to representing auspiciousness and continuity, it also symbolizes the eternal stability of the country.

The python robe was a court uniform for officials in the Ming Dynasty. It was not until the Qing Dynasty that restrictions were relaxed. It can be worn by anyone from the emperor to those who have not yet entered the society, with only differences in color and the number of pythons.


Historical records

the Ming dynasty

The clothing of civil and military officials mainly includes court attire, sacrificial attire, official attire, regular attire, and bestowal attire. The python robe is a gift from the emperor, and wearing it requires wearing a jade belt. The python robe is similar to the dragon robe worn by the emperor, and is not originally included in the official attire. It is a gift given by the Ming Dynasty’s eunuchs and eunuchs, as well as the assistant eunuchs. Obtaining such gifts is considered a great honor.

the Qing dynasty

Volume 47 of the Qinding Qing Huidian: Python Robe, Prince and County Prince, embroidered with nine pythons. From Beile to the third rank officials in civil and military affairs, the commander-in-law, the general of Fengguo, and the first-class guards, all have nine pythons and four claws (toes). Civil and military officials of the fourth, fifth, and sixth rank, as well as Fengen Generals, County Magistrates and their consorts, and second class guards and below, have eight pythons and four claws (toes). He is of the seventh, eighth, and ninth rank in civil and martial arts, and has not yet entered the official ranks. He has five pythons and four claws (toes).


The “python clothing” of the Ming Dynasty was originally a tribute given by the emperor to meritorious officials. In the Qing Dynasty, “python clothing” was classified as “auspicious clothing”, and all civil and military officials wore it under patchwork jackets. The python pattern on the clothing is similar to that of a dragon, with only one claw (toe) missing. Therefore, the four clawed dragon is called “python”, hence the name “python clothing”. The “python” in traditional Chinese opera costumes is formed after decoration and beautification based on the “python clothing” of the Ming and Qing dynasties.



Python is a highly decorative garment that inherits the tradition of pursuing artistic conception and embodying spiritual beauty in Chinese clothing throughout history, that is, using clothing to decorate the human body. The clothing style with long robes and wide sleeves exudes a sense of solemnity; The magnificent decorative patterns give symbolic meaning. Another major characteristic of pythons is their strong dancing ability. They break free from natural life forms, do not tie their waists, and their clothing can be freely swayed to express the character’s emotions (jade bands hanging on the clothing only serve as decoration); It borrows exaggerated water sleeves to enrich performance movements and convey character emotions. [1]

Made of large satin material.

Pattern: Mainly dragon and “python water” (seawater and river teeth), accompanied by patterns such as sun, mountains, flowing clouds, “eight treasures”, “eight auspicious patterns”, etc. In feudal society, the dragon was a symbol of nobility, in line with the noble status of emperors and generals. There are three specific shapes of dragons: Tuan Long, Xing Long, and Da Long. Some are dignified and rigorous, some are vigorous and agile, and some are grand and imposing. Different dragon shapes have specific symbolic meanings in clothing and are suitable for various types of characters The specific shapes of “python water” include curved standing water, upright standing water, standing and lying three river water, standing and lying five river water, and fully lying water. The standardization of python water is also strong, and the type of python water used depends on the type of character.


There are mainly three types. It is divided into colored velvet embroidery, flat gold and silver embroidery, and circular gold velvet embroidery. The velvet embroidery is elegant and beautiful, while the round gold velvet embroidery is magnificent and magnificent. The flat gold and flat silver embroidery has a dazzling luster, generous and imposing style. The use of embroidery techniques also depends on the type of character.

In summary, the (typified) formulaic, decorative, and dancing qualities of pythons are highly concentrated and distinct, which can be said to be a typical embodiment of the artistic characteristics of Beijing Opera costumes. Various types of python wearing characters use specific colors and patterns in their clothing, and form a set of conventional and familiar artistic vocabulary in embroidery to express their comprehensive characteristics of identity, quality, and personality.



Female python robe

The male python robe is mainly designed with four clawed dragons, while the female python robe is mostly designed with dragons or phoenixes.

In ancient times, the phoenix was often used to represent the status of a noblewoman and empress, so palace attire mainly consisted of phoenix, peony, and other floral patterns. The female python is adorned with phoenix sunrise and phoenix colored peony patterns, which are worn by empresses, noblewomen, noblewomen, and female generals.

The saying of “respecting virtue, neglecting benevolence, repaying loyalty, and coercing righteousness” by Phoenix may seem puzzling at first glance (however, this theory has been widely circulated in ancient times).

However, there is an explanation in “Baopuzi” for this:

Fu Mu’s behavior is benevolent and green. The phoenix head is green, so it is called Dai Ren.

Gold acts as righteousness, and is white. The phoenix neck is white, hence it is called Yingyi.

Fire acts as a ritual, and is considered red. The phoenix’s mouth is red, so it is called negative etiquette.

Water acts intelligently and is black, while the phoenix’s chest is black, so it is called still knowing.

Earth behavior is believed to be yellow. “The phoenix’s feet are yellow, so it is called ‘Danxin’.”

Pattern: The first type is decorated with nine golden dragons, interspersed with five colored cloud patterns, as well as auspicious and longevity patterns. The lower panel is decorated with eight treasures standing on the water, with one main dragon in the front and back of the collar support, one running dragon in the left and right, and two running dragons in the intersection of the sleeves. Cotton, clip, and fur are determined according to the season. The imperial concubine’s dragon robe is the same as this in yellow. The noble concubine and imperial concubine’s dragon robes are in golden yellow, while the imperial concubine’s dragon robe is in fragrant color.

The second type is weaving and embroidery with five claws and eight golden folds, with one dragon on each shoulder, front chest, and back. Four dragons adorned with lapels. The lower piece is decorated with eight treasures standing in the water, and the rest are the same as the first type of dragon robe.

The third type has no pattern on the lower part, while others are the same as the second type of dragon robe.

Qin Liangyu Python Phoenix Robe

The Ming Dynasty Qin Liangyu Brocade Robe is also a rare embroidery item seen in Sichuan today. One is a Qin Liangyu blue satin plain gold embroidered python robe, with gold embroidered python patterns on the chest, back, collar, and sleeves, as well as colorful embroidered patterns such as Wanfu, Ruyi, cloud patterns, and Baoxiang patterns; One is a yellow satin Qin Liangyu plain gold embroidered python and phoenix shirt, with python patterns removed and double phoenixes embroidered on the chest and back. The skirt legs are embroidered with longevity mountains and blessings, and the blank space is embroidered with colorful clouds. Qin Liangyu was a famous general of his generation. Emperor Chongzhen summoned him and wrote a poem to commend his military achievements. He said, “The Shu brocade robe was made by hand, and the peach blossom horse was adorned with a long tassel. There are many extraordinary men in the world, but who would be willing to travel thousands of miles on the battlefield?” Wearing the Shu brocade embroidered python robe, he galloped on the battlefield, his handsome, beautiful, and military prowess were unmatched by men. The use of yellow in clothing was favored by emperors during the Sui and Tang dynasties, and after the Song and Yuan dynasties, red yellow, red yellow, and light yellow were even exclusively used by the imperial court. Qin Liangyu was granted the title of First Class Lady by the Crown Prince’s Protector, and therefore could wear a yellow satin python phoenix patterned robe. The former governor’s office of Shizhu County in Tibet.

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