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Costume in the Song Dynasty

Costume the Song Dynasty (960-1279) was simple and natural, reflecting the development tendency of the era.

Costume in the period carried on features of costume in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Women's costume mainly included blouses, jackets, coats, skirts, robes, short gowns and long coats. Most garments without belt and buckle had an erect collar and were buttoned down the front, and protective collar was sewn on the outer edge at the neckline. Collar edges and sleeve edges of all clothes that have been excavated were decorated with laces or embroidered patterns. Such clothes were decorated with patterns of peony, camellia, plum blossom, and lily, etc.

By and large, the rank system of officials of the Song Dynasty followed that of the Tang Dynasty, so official costumes in the palace during the two dynasties were similar, both falling into the following categories, Chaofu (court costumes), Jifu (ceremonial costumes), Gongfu (formal robes), Rongfu (military uniforms), Sangfu (funeral costumes) and Shifu (seasonal costumes).

A court costume was composed of a red upper garment and a red lower skirt worn over white underwear made of gauze. Officials fastened a big band made of gauze around their court garments, which were adorned with brocade ribbons, jade ornaments and jade bracelets, and wore black leather shoes and socks of damask silk. Such court costumes adopted a uniform style, but the ranks of officials were distinguishable according to different combinations.

Formal robes had an oblique collar, big sleeves, and a leather waistband. As to this dressing type, colors were used to distinguish the ranks of civil officials. For example, cyan was for officials above the ninth grade; green, above the seventh grade; red, above the fifth grade; and purple, above the third grade. The use of colors changed slightly during the Yuanfeng reign of the Song Dynasty, i.e. purple was used for officials above the fourth grade; bright red, above the sixth grade; and green, above the ninth grade.

Seasonal costumes were the clothing granted to eunuchs. Most granted costumes were decorated with bird and beast patterns woven with brocades.

Besides official costumes used at the court, daily casual costumes (referred to as private costumes too) also had distinctive characteristics. The casual costumes in the Song Dynasty included the following types:

Pao (gown) fell into two types: with broad sleeves and with narrow sleeves. The gown for an official was made of brocade, and that for a non-official was made of white cloth.

Ru (jacket) and Ao (coat) were the necessary costumes for common people in their daily life.

Duanhe (coarse cloth jacket) was short clothes made of coarse cloth worn by poor people.

Lanshan (scholar's blouse) was a kind of men's long robes with a lateral ribbon attached to the lower hem.

Shan (lower garment) followed the ancient code of upper garment (jacket and blouse) and lower garment (skirt), and it was the style of Mianfu (mitral garment), Chaofu (court robe) or Sijufu (private garment).

Zhiduo (straight long robe) was a long loose robe without split at the lower part (but there was central seam on the back part).

Hechang (cloak made of cranes' down) was long and loose. It was a kind of precious fur coat made of down of crane and other birds. Its lower hem reached the ground.

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