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Historic robe donated by US missionary symbolizes enduring friendship

By Wang Ru | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-06-21 12:19

US missionary Watson McMillan Hayes (1857-1944) and his robe. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The Shandong University Museum in Qingdao, Shandong province, welcomed a significant addition on Wednesday — a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) robe with a poignant history, gifted by Paul Hollister, the great-grandson of American missionary Watson McMillan Hayes (1857-1944), who shared a profound connection with China.

Hayes, who was instrumental in the establishment of what is now Shandong University in 1901 and served as a teacher there, had a deep bond with the region. In a gesture of goodwill and to commemorate the enduring friendship between the Chinese and American people, Hollister chose to entrust the robe to the Shandong University Museum.

Originally worn by Hayes himself, the crimson silk robe represents a typical attire worn by ordinary officials during festive occasions in the late Qing Dynasty. Adorned with intricate embroidery featuring a diverse array of decorative motifs, such as auspicious clouds, cranes, bats, and longevity characters, the robe is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the era.

Hayes dedicated his life to education in China, enduring hardships during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) when he was captured by Japanese forces and interned in a concentration camp in Weifang, Shandong, in 1942. Despite being offered the opportunity to leave the camp and return home by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Hayes chose to give that chance to younger individuals. He passed away in the camp in 1944, expressing his unwavering commitment to the education cause in China and his willingness to be laid to rest in a foreign land.


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