This elegant dress (qipao) was gifted to Dr. Reem El Mutwalli from Athbah Al Kalamchi, her sister-in-law. It was originally an heirloom handed down from her grandparents and belonged possibly to the period between c.1930-1950.
Athbah Al Kalamchi was born in 1959 in Lebanon and grew up in Iraq. She graduated with BS in economics from Baghdad University. Married to an Italian she moved to Italy in 1990 where she continues to reside with her only son Omar. Athbah’s maternal grandfather Dhafir Rashid Al Zahawi had professional ties in China and the Far East. He constantly travelled back and forth to China and this article was brought as a gift for a family member on one of his several trips before the Chinese Civil War of 1945 -1949.
This is an ivory and green (crepe) silk women’s dress (qipao)/(cheongsam) with (cutwork) and (buttonhole_stitch) embroidery done with ivory and green silk floss thread around the edges.
This qipao has a side opening with eight (frog_fastener) running down its right side from bust to mid-calf. With a closed high collar typical to qipao it has a frog _fastening at the neck too that serves to both secure the dress around the neck as well as add to its embellishments.
It has slits on both sides that stops at the last button from the top. The hemline of the entire piece from the neckline to the fall and the sleeves is Finished with thin satin piping.
The main field of the dress is embellished with floral arrangements. Bouquets of peonies are scattered all over the field in various orientations with thin leaves sprouting from them. While the bouquets are executed with cutwork and finished with buttonhole_embroidery style the foliage is printed around them in thin green lines. The entire piece is sewn together by hand which stands testament to the makers’ skill and fine craftsmanship.
With just a handful of countries earning mentions in the “Object range” section due to technical limitation, one must never forget the vast range of influence the Chinese culture have had throughout Southeast Asia. As such it would not be presumptuous to categorise all the countries of the region under this section where a woman’s qipao could have made an appearance in some form or another.
Today the qipao in its hundreds of different styles continues to be popular all over the world, especially amongst the Chinese and other Southeast Asian diaspora.
- Chinese dress from the Qing Dynasty to the present day