Quilt of the Month


April 2013 - Longpo Yi or "Dragon Wife's Robe"

April 2013 - Longpo Yi or "Dragon Wife's Robe"

This image depicts the front and reverse sides of the patchwork garment.

Longpo Yi (龙婆衣)—“Dragon Wife’s Robe”
Yi people
Malipo County, Yunnan Province, China
First half of the 20th century
IQSCM 2012.021.0001

Acquisition made possible through the Robert and Ardis James Foundation Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation

The Longpo Yi or “Dragon Wife’s Robe” is a ritual garment made and used by the Hua Luo (“Flowery Lo”) people – a subgroup of the Yi ethnic minority of Southwest China. This group’s folklore recounts the tale of a young girl who married the River Dragon’s son. When the girl’s mother died, she wore the “Longpo Yi” to the funeral; ever since, the Hua Luo people have done the same. A female descendent of the recently deceased wears the robe in the funeral procession, during which she gently dances to the sound of two bronze drums.

This example is composed of squares pieced together from triangles of silk mostly, but also of cotton in select areas. These squares, which resemble pinwheels in American quilt tradition, are appliqued onto an indigo-dyed cotton background. A wax-resist indigo print forms the bottom border and is decorated with a row of tassels. The woman wearing this garment must have made an impressive impression as she solemnly and rhythmically moved along in the funeral procession.

To see two more Longpo Yi examples, visit the collections website of the Musee du Quai Branly, in Paris here and here.