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Ancient Chinese Clothing (Chinese Traditional Style Dress)
In ancient society people lived in crude caves, naked. During the New Stone Age they invented bone needle and began to sew simple winter dress with leaves and animal skins. With the development of the society, people were engaged in agriculture and they started to spin and weave, even sewed coats with linen.

In the class society, dress became the token of social status. It was from the Xia and Shang Dynasties that dress system came into being in China. In the Zhou Dynasty, the system was perfected. From then on the distinctions as to color, design and adornment of dress were strictly made among the emperor, officials and the common people.

China is a multi-national country. Each nation has a traditional culture of its own. The mutual support and inspiration among different nationals made Chinese dress more plentiful and glorious.

During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the economy boomed and people led a quiet life. People from different countries gathered in Changan and Luoyang to promote the international cultural exchange. Particularly the culture of middle Asia deeply influenced Chinese dress system.

On the other hand the ideology also directly influenced dress and adornment. During the Warring States period, many vassal states were competing with each other, hence the patterns of dress and adornment became diversified. During the Sui and Tang, the unity of ancient China and the prosperity of economy brought about new thoughts, and the dress became splendid, particularly the decolIetage appeared. Because of the intensity of the feudal ideology, the patterns of dress and adornment gradually became conservative from the Song and Ming Dynasties. Influenced by western cultures, the designs were more fitting and tasteful from late Ming.

The patterns of ancient dress were classified into two groups:"coat-and-skirt" and "one- piece". "Coat-and-skirt" were mainly worn by women and "one-piece" by men.

Stringent rules are made for the color of ancient dress and adornment. Yellow is the most valuable color as a symbol of center. Green, red, white and black symbolize the East, the South, the West and the North respectively. Green, red, black, white and yellow are pure colors applied by the emperors and officials. The common people could only apply the secondary colors. With the development of the society, the colors of the dress, which are more harmonious and form a partial contrast, replace that of remote ages, which was very simple. These changes make the dress and adornment splendid.

The geometrical patterns, the pictures of animals and plants were widely adopted on ancient dress and adornments. Before Shang and Zhou, the patterns were primitive, succinct and abstract. After Zhou the patterns became much neater. The compositions were balanced and symmetric. During the Tang and Song more attentions were paid to the compositions. From the Ming and Qing Dynasties most of the patterns were realistic, and the flowers, animals and mountains-and-waters were all really true to life.

The articles of clothing of past dynasties are one chapter of Chinese long history and culture. They are not only the reflection of the politics and economy of a given society, but also the great contributions for world civilization.

An outstanding characteristic of traditional Chinese clothing is not only an external expression of elegance, but also an internal symbolism. Each and every piece of traditional clothing communicates a vitality of its own. This combination of external form with internal symbolism is clearly exemplified in the pair of fighting pheasant feathers used in head wear originating in the battle wear of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). Two feathers of a ho bird (a type pheasant good at fighting) were inserted into the head wear of warriors of this period to symbolize a bold and warlike spirit.

Archaeological findings of 18,000 year-old artifacts such as bone sewing needles and stone beads and shells with holes bored in them attest to the existence of ornamentation and of sewing extremely early in Chinese civilization. Variety and consistency in clothing were roughly established by the era of the Yellow Emperor and the Emperors Yao and Shun (about 4,500 years ago). Remains of woven silk and hemp articles and ancient ceramic figures further demonstrate the sophistication and refinement of clothing in the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th century B.C.).

The three main types of traditional Chinese clothing are the pien-fu, the ch'ang-p'ao, and the shen-i. The pien-fu is an ancient two-piece ceremonial costume of a tunic-like top extending to the knees and a skirt or trousers extending to the ankles. The ch'ang-p'ao is a one-piece garment extending from the shoulders all the way to the heels. The shen-i is a cross between the pien-fu and the ch'ang-p'ao; it consists of a tunic and a skirt or trousers like the pien-fu, but the tunic and the skirt are sewed together and essentially one piece like the ch'ang-p'ao. Consequently, the shen-i was the most widely worn of the three types. Typical of these three types of clothing were wide and voluminous sleeves and a very loose fit. Tunic and trousers or tunic and skirt, utilized a very minimum number of stitches for the amount of cloth used. So because of their relatively plain design and structure, embroidered edgings, decorated bands, draped cloth or silks, patterns on the shoulders, and sashes were often added as ornamentation. These varied designs came to be one of the unique features of traditional Chinese dress.

Darker colors were favored over lighter ones in traditional Chinese clothing, so the main color of ceremonial clothing tended to be dark while bright, elaborate tapestry designs accented. Lighter colored clothing was worn more frequently by the common people for everyday and around the house use. The Chinese associate certain colors with specific seasons: green represents spring, red symbolizes summer, white represents autumn, and black symbolizes winter. The Chinese are said to have a fully developed system of matching, coordinating, and contrasting colors and shades of light and dark in apparel.

Today, Fashion designers use a mixture of traditional and modern ideas to create new fashions. These new fashions also incorporate age-old motifs such as guardian deities, lions, and masks of Chinese opera characters. Chinese bronze is another source of printed, woven, embroidered, and applied design for clothes. Some of the distinctive designs include dragons, phoenixes, clouds, and lightning. Motifs from traditional Chinese painting also end up in woven or printed fashion designs.

In modern society, men are seen at social occasions wearing the dignified and refined traditional Chinese long gown, and women often wear the ch'i-p'ao, a modified form of a traditional Ching Dynasty fashion, on formal occasions. The variations of height, length, width, and ornamentation of the collar, sleeves, skirt, and basic cut of this Oriental fashion are limitless.

Many accessories such as macram are used to decorate shoulders, bodices, pockets, seams, and openings of clothing, as well as belts, hair ornaments, and necklaces. Some successful examples of combinations of modern and traditional fashion elements are the modern bridal tiara, based on a Sung Dynasty design and the Hunan Province style of embroidered sash made in the traditional colors of pure red, blue, and green. From these examples, it can be seen how traditional Chinese dress is the foundation of modern fashion. However, the Chinese have also adopted many Western styles of clothing such as business suits and jeans. 

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Costume in the Shang Dynasty
Chinese characters came into being in the Shang Dynasty (17th - 11th century BC). Most characters of the time were hieroglyphs, and some were even pictures. Human figures excavated and those inscribed on bones or tortoise shells showed that the system of costumes and adornments was gradually taking form, with their functions shifting from just practicality to decoration and aesthetics.
Tujia Clothes
The costume of Tujia ethnic minority is greatly affected by that of the Han people. Only in some remote areas, they keep some traditional costumes.
Famous Brocades in China
This kind of brocade looks like colorful clouds, hence the name cloud brocade. Both high-quality silk and exquisite skills are required to produce this cloud effect. From the Yuan to the Ming dynasties (1271-1644), cloud brocades were used mostly for imperial clothing.
Manchu Hairstyle
Manchu hairstyle and headwear are unique, especially Manchu females' headwear. It is elegant and magnificent, natural and graceful.
Costume in the Song Dynasty
Costume the Song Dynasty (960-1279) was simple and natural, reflecting the development tendency of the era.
Uygur Clothes
Costume of the Uygur ethnic minority features looseness, free style and sharp color contrast. In the past, the majority of Uygur women wore broad-sleeved one-piece dresses topped with a black waistcoat. Now, they mostly wear western-style short jackets and skirts.
Colorful Cap
Colorful cap is part of the Uygur ethnic minority's habiliment, and also one of the symbols of the minority. As early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907), most males of the Western Regions wore a pointed-topped felt hat with a turnup edge, quite similar to the present-day "Sipianwa".
Gu Embroidery
Gu Embroidery originated from the household of Gu Mingshi in Songjiang, Jiangsu Province.
Miao Ethnic Group
The Miao ethnic minority mainly live in the border areas of the provinces of southwest China. They have their own language.
Costume in the Tang Dynasty
The unified and prosperous China was established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In China's history, the Tang Dynasty was a period when the polity and economy were highly developed and the culture and art were thriving.
Uzbek Clothes
Wearing various colored small caps is an important characteristic of their traditional costumes. The caps can be embroidered or made of corduroy or black velvet. Women sometimes wear scarves over the caps.
Embroidered Shoes: Making a Comeback
In the shoe family, Chinese-style embroidered shoes, which have been deemed as a perfect combination of the shoe culture and the art of embroidery, are a 100-percent handicraft creation by Chinese people. Deeply rooted in Chinese culture, they are reputed as "Chinese shoes".
Hair Embroidery
Hailed as a "unique skill of the world", hair embroidery is one of the gems of Chinese embroidery art, together with Su embroidery, Xiang embroidery, Yue embroidery and Shu embroidery. As the name indicates, hair embroidery refers to embroidery where human hair is used as a thread instead of other materials. Since Chinese people generally have black hair, embroidery is also called "Moxiu" (black embroidery).
Mongolian Women
The Mongolian ethnic minority is chiefly distributed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, and they call themselves "Mongolians", meaning "Eternal Fires". People also call them "an ethnic minority on horseback". The Mongolians have their own language and alphabets. Mongolian women's headwear is unique.
Costume in the Western Zhou Dynasty
The establishment of the Western Zhou Dynasty (c.1100-c.771BC) highly improved the social productivity, so materials obviously became more, social order was regulated by rules and regulations. Because of the existence of hierarchical system and the requirements of rites and morality, the code of dress and personal adornments was further standardized.
Va Clothes
Costume of the Va ethnic minority varies from place to place. In areas influenced greatly by the Han people, Va costume is similar to the Han's; in areas with great Dai's influence, it is similar to the Dai's. Only in Ximeng area of Yunnan Province, Va costume keeps much of its traditional feature.
Embroidered Shoes: Making a Comeback
In the Neolithic age(from about 10,000 years ago to about 4,000 year ago), ancestors of China used grass, hemp, or kudzu vine to make shoes. There were many ways to name shoe, such as Jü, Lü, Xi and so on. Xi is the most valuable.
Silk and Ancient Chinese Rites
China, as a country of ceremony and propriety, has for millenniums been attaching great importance on rites, with its origins in Confucius theory. Chinese silk, used as a way to distinguish between different people, has in some way epitomized the ancient rites.
Sani Women
The Sani is a branch of the Yi ethnic minority. Huabaotou (colored turban) of the Sani women is still an important part of girls' habiliment now, just like the legendary Ahshima (a goddess of love in the national myth).
Costume in the Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) was the amalgamation age of ethnic groups in China's history, and the dresses and personal adornments of the time also fully represented this feature.
Xibe Clothes
The Xibes, with a population of over 27,000 in Xinjiang, have their own language. They believe in Shamanism. Daxian Mountain and the Nenjiang River are the cradles of Xibe civilization-it is where the Xibes started and developed.
Evolution of Caps in China
Cap was invented long ago in China. For example, in Chinese idioms, there are "Yi Guan Chu Chu" (neatly dressed both in clothes and in cap), and "Guan Mian Tang Huang (elegant and stately in dressing)", and so on. The "Guan" and "Mian" here refer to cap.
Silk and Chinese Art
The life of a silkworm is amazing. In its short life, it undergoes four changes -- from egg to larva (generally known as silkworm) to chrysalis (cocoon or pupa) to moth. These changes inspired ancient Chinese people to contemplate the fundamental questions of life and death. The egg is considered as the beginning of life; larva, the hatched egg, as the birth of life; the chrysalis, as the end of life; and the flying moth, as the spirit after life.
She Ethnic Minority
The She ethnic minority is mostly distributed in Fujian Province, Zhejiang Province, Guangdong Province and other provinces in South China.
Costume of Wei and Jin Periods
By and large, the dresses and personal adornments of the Wei and Jin period (220-420) maintain the basic forms of the Han Dynasty, but they had their special features in terms of style.
Yao Clothes
Yao women wear collarless jackets buttoned on the right, and trousers, short skirts or plaited skirt. They love to embroider various patterns on the front, cuffs and trouser legs of their clothes, arrange their hair into many small plaits, and wear accessories like silver hairpins, earrings, necklaces, silver badges, and bracelets, etc.
History of Shoes in China
In the Neolithic age(from about 10,000 years ago to about 4,000 year ago), ancestors of China used grass, hemp, or kudzu vine to make shoes. There were many ways to name shoe, such as Jü, Lü, Xi and so on. Xi is the most valuable.
Silk and Chinese literature
Literature works with the theme of silk have abounded throughout history. Beginning with Shi jing (Classics of Poetry), many poems throughout Chinese history by renowned poets -- like Li Bai, Bai Juyi, Du Fu, Li Shangyin, Wang Changling, Fan Dacheng, Lu You, and Su Shi -- have used silk as the content, or as a metaphor. In classic works like Dream of Red Mansions and Plum in the Gold Vase , there are many descriptions of silk.
Silver Accessories of Ethnic Minorities in Yunnan
Among the rich and colorful costumes of Yunnan Province's ethnic minorities, silver adds the "finishing touch." People who have visited ethnic minority regions in Yunnan will be impressed by the various types of silver accessories worn by women and children: small, silver bells on bonnet, silver bracelets around women's wrists, numerous silver "bubbles" on their clothes, silver ear pendants, etc.
Garments during the Spring & Autumn and Warring States Period
Various etiquettes were gradually revoked during the Warring States Period (475-221BC) because of frequent wars. Garments changed accordingly in the seven great states (Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin) in that period due to different natural conditions and social customs.
Yi Clothes
Yi people has thirteen sub-groups, most of which live in mountainous areas where it's windy and cold. Their favorite color for the costumes is black, but, Yi people have found the way to both make their clothes look colorful by meticulously blending the other colors with black and keep them warm.
Little White Cap and Gaitou of Huis
Costume of the Hui ethnic minority distinguishes itself from others chiefly by the head part. In areas inhabited by the Hui people, men usually wear a round brimless white cap.
Silk and Painting
Silk was once used as a main material for writing and painting, before being replaced by paper upon the latter's invention. However, the tradition of painting on silk was kept, used not only for professional artistic works, but also as decorations on silk clothes.
Tibetan Women
The Tibetan ethnic minority is mainly distributed in Tibet Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan provinces and their nearby provinces. The Tibetan ethnic minority is one of the age-old ethnic minorities in China and its chief agricultural crop is highland barley, but there are also other crops such as wheat, rape and pea, etc.
Official Hats of the Qing Dynasty
The official hats of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were completely different from those of the previous dynasties. All Qing political and military personnel above the rank of bailiff had to wear a kind of weft hat.
Yugur Clothes
Yugur men wear a long gown with red or blue waistband. They usually wear a flat-topped and round canister-shaped hat or a white terai in summer and autumn; wear a hat made of fox-skin and leather boots in winter.
Manchu Shoes and Chromatic Plumes on the Head
The Manchu ethnic minority is mostly distributed in Northeast China's Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning Provinces, especially in Liaoning Province. The Manchu have their own language and letters. They are fond of singing and dancing from of old, and their ancient songs and dances mostly evolved from activities of hunting and battle.
Silk and Stamp, Printing, and Engraving
Printing, alongside compass, gunpowder, and papermaking, are ancient China's four great inventions, which have greatly promoted the development of human civilization worldwide. Nonetheless, traditional printing is largely adopted from silk printing.
Chinese Wax Printing
Chinese wax printing is a special Chinese handicraft typical of ethnic characteristics and local styles. As one of the most antique handworks, it is perceived as an important part of China's ancient civilization.
Tu Ethnic Minority
The Tu ethnic minority, mainly distributed in the east of Qinghai Province and some parts of Gansu Province of China, is a minority with a long historic standing.
Patches on Ancient Official Robes
Patches, or Buzi in Chinese, were always found on both the front and back of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing's official robes, indicating civilian or military rank. The official costumes, therefore, were often referred to as "patched robes".
Zhuang Clothes
Although today there is no obvious difference in the contemporary costumes of Zhuang ethnic minority and Han people, the traditional Zhuang costume, worn on special occasions, is unique in style.
Wooden Sandals
In Wenchang County of Hainan Province in southern China, a famous hometown of overseas Chinese, there has always been a custom to wear wooden sandals. Although the wooden sandals are in the danger of being gradually eliminated, to be replaced by cloth shoes, leather shoes or plastic shoes, yet you can still see many people wearing wooden sandals, whether in countryside or town.
The Four Famous Embroideries of China
Embroidery, a folk art with a long tradition, has an important position in the history of Chinese arts and crafts. In its long development embroidery has been inseparable from silkworm raising and silk reeling and weaving.
Tibetan robe (Zhang pao)
The Tibetans call it zhuba. It is their favourite attire, and the most distinctive mark that tells the tibetans from people of other ethnic backgrounds.
Cheongsam (Qipao)
The cheongsam is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features and enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion.
Miao-Style Silver Jewellery (Miaozu Yinshi)
When a girl was bom in a Miao family,her parents make it a point to save on food and expenses for a complete set of silver jewellery for her.
Dragon Robe (Long pao)
The robe embroidered with dragon patterns was made for the exclusive use of an emperor during the Qing dynasty. The ritual of embroidering dragon patterns on the emperor's robe, however, dates back to as early as the Zhou Dynasty (11"' cen-tury-256 B.C.). During the Yuan and Ming, the emperors were already wearing robes graced with dragon patterns, but it was not until the Qing that they were named "dragon robes" and became part of the official attire system.
Patches of Embroidery on Official Robes (Buzi)
Buzi is a term referring to animal patterns embroidered with silk thread in yellow and other colours on the front and back of robes worn by officials during the Ming and Qing. In Chinese feudal hierarchy such animal patterns were status symbols for government officials.
Costumes in Watery Regions South of Yangtze
Countryside women living east of Suzhou City of Jiangsu Province still wear the traditional folk clothes and adornments and always wear headcloth, pieced coat, trousers with the waist pieced together and embroidered shoes and so on.
Qing Style
Chang Pao was men's common wear, lower than the knees and with a round collar band. It was a long gown featured collarless, narrow horseshoe-shaped sleeves, buttons down the left front, four slits and a fitting waist. The slits could enhance men's freedom of mobility while they were riding the horse. Men wore thin Chang Pao made of cotton cloth in the summer, and warm cotton Chang Pao or fur-lined robe in the winter.
Colorful Costumes of the Han people
The Hans are the most populous ethnic group both in China and in the world. They have a long history and a resplendent culture.
Jiedexiu: Homeland of Tibetan Pulu Fabrics
"Pulu", or Tibetan woolen fabrics, are as important and popular among Tibetans as cotton clothes are to inland Chinese. This type of richly textured cloth originated in Jiedexiu, a small town in Gongashan County of southern Tibet. Here, the rhythmic sound of pulu weaving, which has echoed throughout the land since ancient times, can still be heard along the banks of the Yarlung Zangbo River .
China's First Costume Museum
The Ningbo Costume Museum is a large-scale museum highlighting Chinese habilatory culture and costume development and also the first specialized costume museum in China.
Traditional Beijing Costumes
"Buddha needs to be decorated with gold, whereas human beings need to be decorated with clothes". "The four elements of life are clothing, food, residence and transportation, in which clothing comes first".

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