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Miniature Chinese Robe

  Taoist Priest's Robe (Detail)
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Taoist Priest's Robe (detail)
Qing dynasty,
mid-19th century
Embroidered silk tapestry
126 x 186.3 cm
Minneapolis Institute of Arts; John R. Van Derlip Fund
cat. no. 51


Lesson Objective: Students will create a miniature Chinese robe made of paper.

Related Object: Taoist Priest's Robe

Subject Area: Fine Arts
Suggested Grade Levels: Elementary and Middle School

Instructional Materials:

Elementary School:

  • Descriptive text on Taoist Priest's Robe
  • White 8.5"x 11" paper
  • Colored markers
  • Pencils
  • Erasers

Middle School:

  • Descriptive text on Taoist Priest's Robe
  • White 11"x 18" paper
  • Rulers
  • Colored construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Tempera paints and brushes
  • Water cups
  • Paper towels
  • Mixing trays
  • Colored pencils
  • Colored markers
  • Glue


  • Read the information on the Taoist Priest's Robe and share it with your students as they look carefully at the online reproduction.
  • Help the class identify some of the images on the robe, such as the mountains at the bottom, the pagoda in the center, the cranes in each of the five circles, and the numerous snakelike dragons.
  • Discuss the following elements of style and form: colors (red and gold), shapes (numerous circles), and lines (both curved and straight).
  • Discuss with the class the function of the robe (once worn by a priest in a Chinese temple).


Elementary School:

  • Use a printout of the Taoist Priest's Robe to trace an outline of its shape and create a template. Students can also begin by using pencils to execute their own freehand drawings of the robe.
  • Students should then be encouraged to select a dominant background color and then to decorate the background with an arrangement of geometric and organic shapes and realistic or stylized images.

Middle School:

  • The dimensions of the actual robe are 49 5/8" x 73 3/8". Using a scale of 5"=1", challenge students to calculate the length and height of a miniature robe by dividing the actual dimensions by 5.
  • Give each student two pieces of white paper to create the miniature robe. Using the scaled-down length and height, have students use one piece of paper to create the front of the robe and another to create the back.
  • Ask students to use tempera paint to give their robes a background color. While the robes dry, ask students to recall the shapes and images on the Taoist Priest's Robe and choose those they would like to reproduce on their miniature robes. Students will then cut these shapes out of different colored construction paper.
  • When the paint dries, they can glue the front and back of their miniature robe together at the top and the sides. Then students can glue the cut-out motifs onto the front and the back of their robes. Using colored pencils and markers, students should add final touches to the front and back of their robes.

Art Institute of Chicago



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