Jade Clothes Sewn With Golden Thread were actually funeral suits for the imperial family. a custom which first appeared in the Warring States Period (476-221BC) and prevailed in the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220)
As a symbol of class. jade suits. which were tailored to the client`s shape. were used as garments for deceased emperors and nobility of the Han Dynasty. The emperor wore garments sewn with golden thread. while kings and princess wore silver-threaded suits; other officials and nobles wore copper-threaded garments. Respectively the latter two pieces were called Jade Clothes Sewn With Silver Thread and Jade Clothes Sewn With Copper Thread.
Since people of the Han Dynasty believed jade had absorbed the excellence of mountains. it was used to preserve dead bodies for the after life. Therefore. jade suits played an important role in jade articles. To date. over 20 jade suits have been discovered in China. including the Jade Clothes Sewn With Golden Thread of Liu Sheng. Duke Zhongshan of the Han Dynasty -- the earliest and finest specimen.
The 188 cm long. jade garment was unearthed in the Tomb of Duke Zhongshan in Mancheng County. Hebei Province. north of China in 1968. Composed of six parts -- the hood. coat. sleeves. gloves. trousers and shoot. with a total 2.498 jade pieces and 1.100 grams of gold thread -- the jade suit includes eye covers. nose stopples and covers for reproductive organs. The whole suit was rimmed with red thread and an iron rim on the trouser legs for fixation. The face cover was carved with holes in the shape of eyes. a nose and mouth. The suit is broader in the chest and back and bulges at the hips. ideally fitting the figure.
The jade suit was delicately designed with orderly aligned and harmoniously colored jade slices that reflect the superb techniques of the craftsmen and the extravagant lives of the nobles. The jade suit belongs to the Antique Research Center of Hebei Province.
Due to ancient productivity conditions. it was very difficult to make jade clothing sewn with a golden thread more than 2.000 years ago. First of all. raw materials had to be transported from far away and then processed into thousands of pieces of various sizes. Every piece had to be polished and small holes were drilled into it -- techniques that required high craftsmanship. The size and shape of each piece was strictly designed as part of the artwork and special golden thread was also needed to sew the jade pieces together. A massive amount of manpower and resources were needed to produce a piece of jade clothing. The value of such garments at the time was roughly equal to the properties of 100 middle-class families. However. items like the Jade Clothes Sewn With Golden Thread did not help emperors attain immortality. instead. they attracted many tomb robbers. Until the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). Wei Emperor Cao Pi banned the use of Jade Clothes Sewn With Golden Thread. and the practice was abolished from Chinese history.