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Qing dynasty style wedding dress

Chinese clothing includes the traditional hanfu and garments of ethnic minorities, as well as modern variations of indigenous Chinese dresses. Chinese clothing has been shaped through its dynastic traditions, as well as through foreign influences.[1] Chinese clothing showcases the traditional fashion sensibilities of Chinese culture traditions and forms one of the major cultural facets of Chinese civilization.[2]


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Ancient Chinese literature traditionally credits the invention of clothing to legendary emperors such as Huangdi, Yao, Shun, or Youchao. In primitive societies, clothing was used to symbolize authority and specific identities. For example, as stated in the Book of Changes, Emperor Yao and Shun hung his clothes and ruled the world. The style of their clothing must be different from that of ordinary people. In addition, during military activities or ceremonial rites, the costumes of the host and participants were also different from usual. These laid the foundation for the occurrence and development of the clothing system.[citation needed]

From the perspective of unearthed cultural relics, the origin of clothing history can be traced back to the late Paleolithic period. In ancient times, shoes were often made of animal skin, so the name of the shoe was often referred to as leather. The earliest shoe styles were very rudimentary. It has been speculated[by whom?] that ancient people cut animal skins into rough foot shapes and connected them with thin leather strips to form the most primitive shoes.

Mountain Top Cave Man

About 19,000 years ago, one bone needle and 141 drilled stone, bone, shell, and tooth decorations were found. It was confirmed that natural materials such as animal skins could be used to sew simple clothes at that time. The history of Chinese clothing culture began from this. Seven small stone beads and 125 perforated animal teeth and other decorations were seen in the mountaintop cave, with long-term wear and tear marks on them. Among them, 5 pieces were unearthed in a semi-circular arrangement, possibly as strings of decorations. Another 25 pieces were also dyed with hematite powder, and the bones buried in the lower chamber of the mountaintop cave were also scattered with hematite powder particles, which may have been used for coloring clothes or as a finishing ceremony, reflecting a certain aesthetic sentiment of the mountaintop cave people. Protecting life, concealing oneself from the cold, and decorating oneself have all become the main functions of clothing in primitive society.[3]

The Neolithic Age

By the Neolithic period, spinning wheels became popular.[citation needed] The Yuyao Hemudu site also unearthed a "waist loom", with a cylindrical back loop that could form a natural weaving mouth, as well as a sheng (scroll). With the invention of textile technology, clothing materials became artificially woven fabrics, and silk production also began in the Neolithic Age. The form of clothing has changed and its functions have also been improved. Cloak style clothing such as headscarves and drapes soon became typical attire, with increasingly complex accessories that have had a significant impact on the formation of clothing systems.[citation needed] After the emergence of textiles, headscarves have developed into a standardized clothing style, widely used in a considerable period of time, in vast regions, and among many ethnic groups. They have basically replaced the clothing components of the Paleolithic era and become the coarse form of human clothing. In addition to general clothing, the Neolithic period also discovered crowns, boots, headgear, and accessories from some pottery relics.[4]

Shang dynasty

The main materials for clothing in the Shang Dynasty were leather, leather, silk, and linen. Due to the advancement of textile technology, silk and linen fabrics have taken an important position. During the Shang Dynasty, people were already able to finely weave extremely thin silk, jacquard geometric patterns of brocade and silk, as well as the ribbed yarn of the warp loom. The fabric is thick and heavy in color.[5]

Western Zhou Dynasty

During the Western Zhou Dynasty, the hierarchical system was gradually established, and the Zhou Dynasty established official positions such as "Si Fu" and "Nei Si Fu", which were in charge of royal attire. According to literature records and analysis of unearthed cultural relics, the Chinese coronal and attire system was initially established during the Xia and Shang dynasties and had been fully perfected by the Zhou dynasty. It was incorporated into the rule of etiquette during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. To express nobility and dignity, royal officials in different ceremonial occasions should have their crowns arranged in an orderly manner, and their clothing should also adopt different forms, colors, and patterns. From the human shaped cultural relics unearthed during the Zhou Dynasty, it can be seen that although the decoration of clothing is complex and simple, the upper and lower garments are already distinct, laying the foundation for the basic form of Chinese clothing.[6]

Imperial China

See also: Hanfu

Robe of the Qianlong Emperor with the Chinese dragon, the hallmark of the emperor of China and imperial families

Traditional Han clothing has a recorded history of more than three millennia until the end of the Ming dynasty.[2] Most Chinese men wore Chinese black cotton shoes, but wealthy higher-class people would wear tough black leather shoes for formal occasions. Very rich and wealthy men would wear very bright, beautiful silk shoes, sometimes with leather on the inside. Women would wear silk shoes, often with holes in the top for their feet to fit in, with certain wealthy women practicing foot binding wearing coated lotus shoes as a status symbol until in the early 20th century.

Civil and military officials

Chinese civil or military officials used a variety of codes to show their rank and position. The most recognized is the mandarin square or rank badge. Another way to show social standing and civil rank was the use of colorful hat knobs fixed on the top of their hats. The specific hat knob on one's hat determined one's rank, as there were twelve types of hat knobs representing the nine distinctive ranks of the civil or military position. Variations existed for Ming dynasty official headwear. In the Qing dynasty different patterns of robes represented different ranks.

The Night Revels of Han Xizai, originally painted by Gu Hongzhong, depicting life in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period at the end of this period. It is believed that people burned their clothing as a form of ceremony.

Qin dynasty (221 BC −207 BC)

See also: Cheongsam and changshan

called Shoe of Queen Marysieńka in the District Museum in Tarnów is an example of late 17th-century Qing dynasty shoemaking.[7] The damask and satin body was mounted on cardboard sole.[7]

During the pre Qin period, clothing was an important component of ancient Chinese culture and a symbol of social status, identity, and cultural traditions. During this period, clothing was not only a part of people's daily lives, but also a reflection of culture, ideology, and aesthetics.

The clothing of the pre Qin period mainly included clothing, robes, crowns, shoes, etc. Clothing is the most basic form of clothing for people. Due to different production techniques, it is divided into different levels such as six livestock, seven catkins, and eight vegetables, and there are also differences in color, pattern, weaving method, and other aspects. Shang is the lower garment of ancient men, usually composed of a robe and a skirt, while women usually wore long skirts. A crown is a headdress worn by ancient people in ceremonial occasions, and different forms of crowns represent different identities and positions. Shoes were the footwear of ancient people, reflecting different social statuses and identities based on their materials and styles.

Tops and bottoms

In the pre Qin period, the upper garment was called a garment, and the lower garment was called a garment. The difference between clothing and clothing is very clear. But clothes are skirts rather than pants, and there were no paired pants in the pre Qin period. The combination of clothes is called "shenyi". In the pre Qin period, the collar of clothes in the Central Plains region opened to the right, while the collar of barbarian jackets opened to the left, which is an important difference between Chinese and barbarian jackets.

Shang is a skirt. At that time, there was not much difference in clothing between men and women, and both men and women wore lucky skirts. During the pre Qin period, people often wrapped a piece of cloth diagonally around their calves, which was called "diagonal piece" or simply "piece".[8]


The pre Qin headgear mainly consisted of three types: crown, crown, and bun. Pre Qin aristocratic men wore crowns. When wearing a crown, first use a hairpin to wrap the bun around the hair, and then use the crown to cover the hair. During the pre Qin period, the Central Plains had long hair, while the barbarians had short hair.

Jueben has a special status in the clothing system of ancient China, and its shape, color, decoration and other aspects can often reflect the identity, rank and position of officials. Generally speaking, the style and color of the knight will vary according to the rank and status of the official. Jueben has a special status in the clothing system of ancient China, and its shape, color, decoration and other aspects can often reflect the identity, rank and position of officials. Generally speaking, the style and color of the knight will vary according to the rank and status of the official.[8]

The crown in the pre-Qin period is an ancient Chinese headdress, which is used to show people's social status and identity. There are several kinds of crowns, such as the crown of the king, the crown of the noble, the crown of the scholar and the crown of the common people, each of which represents a different class and identity. The crown is the most gorgeous, representing the authority of the king, while the crown of the common people is relatively simple and used by ordinary people. The form and wearing of the crown were strictly regulated by etiquette, reflecting the social hierarchy at that time. The crown is black, which is the most noble crown. At first, the emperor and the princes can wear crowns when offering sacrifices. The shape of the crown is different from that of the general crown. On the crown is a rectangular version called "Yan"; hanging in front of Yan a string of small jade beads is called "旒". In later generations, only the emperor was allowed to wear the crown, and the "crowned crown" became the name of the emperor.[8]

Han Dynasty (202 BC −220 CE)

Han Palace Spring Dawn Map

During the Han dynasty, fabric was the main material for clothing. During this period, known as the "rule of culture and scenery", the simple style prevailed in Han society and also influenced people's aesthetic taste in clothing.[9]

The clothing culture of the Han Dynasty presented unique characteristics: the collar of the outer garment was larger, the collar was lower, and when wearing it, the collar shape of the middle garment should be displayed. People often wear multiple layers of clothing, and the collar of each layer needs to be exposed, up to three or more layers, which is called "triple clothing". Underwear is mostly made of white fabric, with wide cuffs, and the shirt is usually sleeveless.

In addition, the clothing and accessories of the Han Dynasty were very particular, and the hooks on the belts were often made of gold, with various shapes such as praying mantis or pipa. These accessories are vivid and interesting, making them indispensable decorations in clothing. The hook of the Han Dynasty reached a very high level in shape, color, and craftsmanship, with exquisite design, thus being loved by many men. In addition, men in the Han Dynasty often wore knives, but most of these knives were bladeless and were only used to showcase their appearance, rather than for actual use.[10]

During the Han Dynasty, similar to the Qin dynasty, people also distinguished clothing into formal attire and regular attire. At festivals and other grand occasions, people wear solemn formal attire, while in daily life, they wear convenient everyday clothes. The Han Dynasty had a wide variety of clothing styles, including deep robes, robes, and short jackets.

Women's clothing

There are also clothing forms such as a straight skirt and a skirt. It is worth mentioning that during the Han Dynasty, women's formal attire was still dominated by deep clothing, and different colors such as spring green, summer red, seasonal summer yellow, autumn white, and winter black were chosen according to seasonal changes. Although during the Western Han Dynasty, the Qin Dynasty's curved and deep clothes were still popular, with the collar cracking and bending down to the armpits, the characteristic of the Western Han Dynasty was that the clothes often reached the ground and the hem was often trumpet shaped, making it difficult to expose the shoes while walking. Due to the close fitting design of Han Dynasty clothing, which could perfectly outline the beauty of women's body curves, it was often regarded as luxurious, elegant, and dignified. In addition, the exquisite embroidery patterns on Han Dynasty portraits were often one of the symbols of aristocratic status, distinguishing them from ordinary people.[11]

In the Han Dynasty, women's clothing also showed a trend of diversification, with the most famous being the "Liuxian skirt". According to the "Miscellaneous Records of the Western Capital", Zhao Feiyan was granted the title of Empress at that time, and her sister sent people to weave upper and lower jackets, forming a magnificent set of clothing. Zhao Feiyan once wore the "Yunying Purple Skirt", also known as the "Liuxian Skirt", which was a tribute from South Vietnam. This kind of skirt is similar to the pleated skirt of today and is very gorgeous.[12]

According to legend, there was also a popular costume in the Han court called the wide sleeved flowing fairy skirt, which may be a variant of the "Yun Ying Zi skirt". However, due to its excessive flamboyance and high cost, it gradually disappeared from the court and later became a folk legend that most people could not afford.

This historical material showcases the rich and colorful clothing of women during the Han Dynasty, as well as the differences between palace and folk clothing. As one of the representatives, the Liuxian skirt reflects the fashion and taste of the time, as well as the differences between social classes and the complexity of clothing culture.

Dress and Social Class in the Han Dynasty

During the Han Dynasty, the weaving and embroidery techniques reached a relatively high level, but due to limitations in productivity, the production of exquisite fabrics such as silk was not high. This has led to expensive silk clothing, which can only be worn by high-ranking officials. Generally, people wear short clothes and long pants, while poor people wear short brown clothes made of coarse cloth. Therefore, "cloth clothing" and "brown clothing" have become synonymous with ordinary people.

Against the backdrop of the Han Dynasty's policy of emphasizing agriculture and suppressing commerce, the social status of merchants was relatively low. They are even prohibited from wearing luxurious clothing such as silk. However, due to the strong economic strength of merchants, they often break through government restrictions through various means. Therefore, there is a certain gap between official regulations and actual life.[13]

During the Han Dynasty, wealthy families often wore fur clothes made of animal fur, including the fur of various animals such as foxes, dogs, sheep, deer ,minks, and rabbits. These fur clothes not only provide warmth, but also showcase social class and status.

The fur of different animals is suitable for different occasions and seasons. Fox fur clothing is soft and glossy, suitable for making high-end outerwear; Dog fur clothing may be thicker, providing better warmth; Woolen fur clothing is particularly popular in cold winters due to the rich fuzz of wool; Deer fur clothing may be lighter and suitable for wearing in autumn and winter seasons; And mink and rabbit fur clothing are considered luxury goods because their fur is soft and shiny, suitable for making gorgeous clothing.

These fur coats made of animal fur not only reflect people's aesthetic pursuit of clothing, but also showcase the differences in social classes.

Traveling with Hepa

In the past, the depiction of He Bo's travels displayed a unique style of clothing, particularly common among the lower class. They often work naked, wearing only a simple lower garment. In the portrait stone, there are two sedan bearers carrying sedan chairs, naked and wearing only a pair of shorts called "loins". This kind of loincloth was often worn by the lower class people at that time. This creates a sharp contrast with the wealthy families traveling in sedan chairs in the picture.[14]

Similarly, there are poor laborers who usually wear a more basic type of shorts called "calf nose loins". This type of pants is simpler than loincloths, only wrapped around the waist with a three-foot long piece of fabric. Such clothing was common in daily life at that time, reflecting the living and economic conditions of people from different social classes.

Three Kingdoms (220–280)

Upper class

In the past society, the attire of the upper class often reflected their social status and wealth. Men usually choose to wear gorgeous robes, which are usually made of exquisite brocade and are mainly in deep tones such as deep blue, deep purple, or deep green, adorned with gold and silver embroidery and various exquisite decorative patterns. These decorative patterns may be traditional cultural elements such as flowers, fenghuang, and dragons, highlighting taste and identity.[15]

Women's clothing, on the other hand, places greater emphasis on grandeur and details. They often choose high-quality silk long skirts, which are usually wide and flowing, creating an elegant atmosphere. Paired with a loose outer robe, the overall look is more layered. These long skirts and outer robes are often embroidered with exquisite patterns, possibly flowers, butterflies, or other natural patterns, reflecting women's elegant taste.

In addition to clothing, upper class individuals also enjoy wearing various valuable accessories to showcase their wealth and status. Gold and silver jewelry is one of the main choices, such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, often embedded with precious gemstones or jewelry. In addition, jade accessories are also one of the favorite accessories among the upper class. Jade is considered a symbol of auspiciousness and beauty in traditional Chinese culture, and is therefore considered a jewelry with special significance.[16]

Lower class

In that society, the clothing of ordinary people was relatively simple, emphasizing practicality and comfort.

Men usually wear short shirts or skirts with straight sleeves, which are usually made of simple cotton or linen for comfort and breathability. To increase the overall line of the waist, they often use cloth straps or ropes to tie the waist, which is also a common style feature.

Women's folk clothing is also mainly simple and simple. They usually wear long shirts or skirts, with loose and comfortable hemlines for easy movement. Similarly, they also use cloth straps or ropes to tighten their waists and highlight their body lines. In terms of color selection, folk clothing tends to have light and elegant tones, such as beige, light blue, light purple, and rarely uses bright colors, which forms a sharp contrast with the luxurious clothing of the upper class.[17]

General attire

Generals usually wear heavily armored battle robes, which are exquisitely crafted and covered with heavy armor to protect them from sword damage on the battlefield. These war robes are cast with various patterns and symbols, such as divine beasts such as dragons, tigers, phoenixes, as well as family and power badges, which can not only display the identity and authority of generals, but also showcase the glory and prestige of their families on the battlefield.

In addition, on the battlefield, many generals will wear recognizable battle robes or colorful down jackets. These battle robes or down jackets are usually in bright colors such as red, yellow, green, which are convenient for team command and soldiers to recognize, and can also stand out on the battlefield, creating momentum and inspiring soldiers to move forward bravely. This type of war robe or colorful down jacket has become a unique scenic spot on the battlefield, leaving a deep impression on people in the era of war.[18]

Women's clothing

During the Three Kingdoms period, women's clothing also had unique characteristics, reflecting the aesthetic concepts and cultural styles of that time.

A skirt or robe is one of the common attire for women. This type of dress is mostly long, with a wide hem, creating a dignified and generous atmosphere. The cuffs and stitching of the dress often carry exquisite embroidery, which may be floral, bird and animal, or other auspicious patterns, reflecting women's pursuit of beauty and love for life.

In addition, women also enjoy wearing various hair and headgear to showcase their beauty and elegance. Common hair accessories include hair combs, hairpins, hairpins, etc. These hair accessories are usually made of precious materials such as gold, silver, jade, etc., which may be inlaid with precious gemstones or jewelry, adding charm and charm to women.[19]

Qing dynasty (1644–1912)

The rise of the Manchu Qing dynasty in many ways represented a new era in Chinese clothing, with certain styles required to be worn by all noblemen and officials. Eventually, these styles also became widespread among the commoners.[20] Manchu official headwear differed from the Ming version, but the Qing continued to use the Mandarin square.[21]

The Characteristics and Changes of Clothing in the Qing Dynasty

The Qing dynasty was an important era in the history of Chinese clothing, which lasted for 276 years and was ruled by eleven emperors. During this period, the rise and fall of the Qing Dynasty had a direct impact on the development and changes of Chinese clothing culture. The Qing Dynasty was an era of cultural integration between Han and Manchu, preserving a large number of traditional clothing elements. However, to eliminate the ethnic consciousness of the Han people, the Qing government forcibly promoted Manchu clothing and prohibited Han people from wearing Han clothing. But the Han people strongly resisted, forcing the government to adopt a series of policies to alleviate public dissatisfaction. With the Opium War and other events, the clothing of the Qing dynasty underwent profound changes, with more diverse forms.[22]

Statues of Qing Dynasty Officials

Men's Clothing

A robe is one of the most important formal attire, usually without a collar, requiring an additional hard collar to be added to the robe. In spring and autumn, light lake colors are often used, while in winter, velvet or leather collars are used. This type of collar, also known as "collar clothing", is commonly known as "cow tongue" due to its resemblance to a cow tongue. The material of a collar garment is usually cloth or satin, with a front facing front that is fastened together with buttons and tied around the waist. In addition, there is a type of shawl that resembles a water chestnut and is embroidered with patterns, commonly used in official court attire.

The clothing of the Qing Dynasty was diverse and rich, with men often wearing robes(袍服), a Chinese-style unlined garment(褂), a short Chinese-style coat or jacket(袄), unlined upper garment(衫), and pants. Among them, "vest" or "camisole" is a common clothing worn by both men and women. The styles of vests include a large front, a double front, and a pipa front, which are usually worn inside and have a more tight fitting style. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, some people began to wear vests on the outside. In addition, there is a vest with multiple buttons, known as the "Batu Selling Kan Kam Shoulder" (Batulu is Manchu, meaning "warrior"). This type of vest is surrounded by edges and has a row of thirteen buttons on the front chest, commonly known as the "one breasted" vest or "thirteen imperial guards". It was originally used for court officials to wear official uniforms, but later became a semi formal formal formal dress for ordinary officials.[23]

Women's Clothing

Hair accessories have rich cultural connotations in Chinese history, divided into two different styles: Han and Manchu. In the initial stage, they each retained their unique shapes, but with the passage of time and cultural exchange, they gradually underwent significant changes and were also influenced by local customs. In the mid Qing Dynasty, Han women began to imitate the hairstyles of Manchu palace women, especially the trend of high buns. In the late Qing Dynasty, the trend of braiding gradually emerged, initially popular among girls, and later gradually popularized.

In contrast, Manchu women tend to choose Dianzi as their hair accessory. These pieces are often made of iron or rattan wire as the skeleton, wrapped in black gauze, and decorated with emerald carvings. Generally speaking, the hairstyles of Manchu women often take on the form of a "forked head" or "two headed" hairstyle. Influenced by the Han ethnic group, the bun gradually flattens and is commonly known as the "one character head". In the late Qing Dynasty, hair buns became increasingly tall and developed into a fixed decoration, known as "Da La Wing".[24]

Sui and Tang costumes

During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, China was unified from division, stability from war, and prosperity in economy and culture. The development of clothing, both materials and clothing, presented an unprecedented and splendid scene. Colourful brocade is a silk woven into various patterns in five colours, which is often used as clothing for half arms and collar edges. Special palace brocade, the pattern has the shape of pheasant, sheep fighting, phoenix, swimming scale, and the colour is gorgeous. Embroidery, including five-colour embroidery and gold and silver thread embroidery, etc. Printing and dyeing patterns, divided into multi-colour set dyeing and mono-colour dyeing. During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, men's crown uniforms were mainly characterised by upper-class people wearing robes, officials wearing heads, and people wearing short shirts. Until the fifth generation, it has not changed much. The officials of Tianzi and Baiguan take colours to distinguish grades, and use patterns to indicate official ranks. The women's clothing of the Sui and Tang Dynasties is rich in fashion, and often developed from the contestant court women's clothing to the folk, and has been imitated one after another. The most popular women's clothes in the Sui and Tang Dynasties were chest-length skirts and high-waisted skirts, that is, short tops and long skirts. The waist of the skirt was high-tied with silk ribbons, almost under the armpits.

Sui and Tang women are easy to dress up. The "half-arm" that spread from the court lasted for a long time, and later men also wore it. At that time, long towels were also popular. They were made of tusa with silver flowers painted with silver or gold and silver powder. One end was fixed on the chest strap of the half arm, and then put on the shoulder, and swired between the arms, called silk. There are various kinds of women's hair accessories in the Tang Dynasty, each with its own name. Women's shoes are generally floral shoes, mostly made of brocade fabrics, coloured silk and leather.

Song, Liao, Xia, Jin Yuan Dynasty

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The Song Dynasty basically retained the style of Han ethnic costumes, while the costumes of Liao, Xixia, Jin and Yuan dynasties had the characteristics of Khitan, Dangxiang, Jurchen and Mongolian ethnic groups respectively. The exchange and integration of costumes of all ethnic groups.

Song style official uniform

During the Song Dynasty, there were roughly three types of Hanfu: official attire, casual attire, and traditional attire. In the Song Dynasty, the fabric of official uniforms was mainly made of silk. Due to the old system of the Five Dynasties, the government would give brocade robes to high-ranking ministers every year, divided into seven different colors such as Song Dynasty Lingjiu ball patterned brocade robes. The color of official attire follows the Tang system, with purple attire for third grade and above, red attire for fifth grade and above, green attire for seventh grade and above, and green attire for ninth grade and above. The official attire style is roughly similar to the long sleeved robe of the late Tang Dynasty, but the first attire (such as the crown hat) is already a flat winged black gauze hat, called the straight footed fu head, which is a custom attire for rulers and officials. The official attire of the Song Dynasty followed the fish wearing system of the Tang Dynasty. Officials eligible to wear purple and crimson uniforms were required to wear a "fish bag" around their waist, which contained fish made of gold, silver, and copper to distinguish their official rank. The square and curved collar is also a characteristic of the court attire, which is the decoration of the lower part of the circle placed between the neckline of the court attire. The daily casual wear of officials in the Song Dynasty, apart from their official uniforms and uniforms, mainly consisted of small sleeved round necked shirts and soft winged buns with drooping headbands, still in Tang style, but with more convenient casual shoes for daily living. The representative clothing of the Song Dynasty's elderly is a wide sleeved robe with a cross necked (cross necked) collar and a Dongpo scarf. The robe is made of dark material with edges to preserve ancient style. The Dongpo scarf is a square tube shaped high scarf, which is said to have been created by the great literary scholar Su Dongpo. It is actually a revival of ancient cloth scarves, which were often worn by the elderly gentry of the Ming

Robes and Tunics

Both men and women typically wore robes and tunics as their main attire. These garments were often made of silk, which was highly valued during this period. Men's robes were generally loose-fitting, with wide sleeves, while women's robes were more form-fitting and often featured intricate embroidery.


Layering of clothing was common during the Song Dynasty. This could include wearing a long robe over a shorter tunic or adding additional layers for warmth in colder weather.

Belted Waist

Both men and women often wore belts around their waist to cinch their garments and create a more defined silhouette. Belts could be simple or ornately decorated depending on the individual's social status and occasion.


Headwear varied depending on gender, social status, and occasion. Men typically wore hats such as the round-brimmed guan hat or the winged-ribboned headdress, while women often adorned their hair with hairpins, hair ornaments, and various types of headscarves.


Shoes during the Song Dynasty were usually made of leather or silk and could be either flat or heeled. Men often wore boots or shoes with rounded toes, while women wore a variety of decorative and embroidered shoes, including lotus shoes with pointed toes.

Symbolism and Embroidery

Clothing during the Song Dynasty was often adorned with symbolic motifs and intricate embroidery, which could signify the wearer's social status, wealth, or personal beliefs. Dragons, phoenixes, flowers, and birds were common motifs used in embroidery.

Song Dynasty Lingjiu Ball Pattern Brocade Robe

There were also various popular folk costumes in the Song Dynasty. Men are popular with futou and drapes, while women are popular with flower crowns and caps. Women's hairstyles and flower crowns were the focus of their pursuit of beauty at that time, best reflecting the changes in attire during the Song Dynasty. During the Tang and Five Dynasties, female corollas became increasingly delicate, while during the Song Dynasty, corollas underwent further development and changes. Usually, flower and bird shaped hairpins and combs were inserted into hair buns, making everything unusual.

Ming Dynasty

Ming style official uniform

After the rule of the Mongols in the Yuan Dynasty, the Han tradition was restored in the Ming Dynasty, and Ming Taizu Zhu Yuanzhang re established the Hanfu clothing system. The Ming Dynasty emperor wore a black veil folded over a scarf (with black veil wings and a crown), and the hat wings stood up from the back. In the early Ming Dynasty, it was requested to restore the Tang style of clothing and headgear. The style of the legal attire was similar to that of the Tang Dynasty, except that the imperial crown for advancing talents was changed to a Liang crown, and the crown styles such as the Zhongjing crown were added. Since the Tang and Song dynasties, dragon robes and yellow have been exclusively used by the royal family. Since the Southern and Northern Dynasties, purple has been considered expensive for official uniforms. In the Ming Dynasty, due to the emperor's surname Zhu, Zhu was chosen as the official color. Additionally, due to the mention in the Analects of Confucius that "evil purple is the way to seize Zhu," purple was abolished from official attire. In the Ming Dynasty, public uniforms were also made of Futou and round necked robes, but at this time, Futou was painted with black paint on the outside, with short and wide feet, and was called Wusha hat. Non official civilians were not allowed to wear it. The most distinctive feature of public uniforms is to use "patches" to indicate the grade, in addition to the color according to the grade regulations. A patch is a piece of silk material approximately 40–50 centimeters square, woven and embroidered with different patterns, and then sewn onto official clothing, with one on the chest and one on the back. Civil officials use birds as their complement, while military officials use beasts, each divided into nine levels. To commend the achievements of officials, clothing such as python robes, flying fish uniforms, and bullfighting uniforms are specially given. The python is a four clawed dragon, the flying fish is a python with fins on its tail, and the bullfighter adds curved horns to the python's head. When reaching the highest rank, jade belts are used. So the "python robe and jade belt" became the most prominent attire of high-ranking officials at this time. Ordinary round necked robes are distinguished by the length of the clothes and the size of the sleeves, with the older ones being respected. The wives and mothers of officials who were granted official titles also wore red long sleeved dresses and various types of Xia Pi, which were differentiated by patterns and decorations. In addition, high-heeled shoes are already worn by upper class women, and there are two types of shoes: inner high sole and outer high sole. The clothing of both upper and lower levels of society has obvious levels.[25]

Robes and Tunics

Both men and women typically wore robes and tunics as their primary garments. Men's robes were generally loose-fitting with wide sleeves, while women's robes were more form-fitting and often featured elaborate embroidery and intricate designs.


Layering of clothing was common during the Ming Dynasty, especially during colder seasons. This could include wearing a long robe over a shorter tunic or adding additional layers for warmth and style.

Belted Waist

Belts were commonly worn by both men and women to cinch their garments at the waist and create a more tailored look. Belts could be simple or ornate, depending on the wearer's social status and occasion.


Headwear played an important role in Ming Dynasty fashion, with different styles worn by men and women. Men often wore hats such as the round-brimmed guan hat or the winged-ribboned headdress, while women adorned their hair with various ornaments, hairpins, and decorative headpieces.

Colors and Fabrics

Ming Dynasty clothing featured a wide range of colors and fabrics, with silk being the most prized material. Bright colors and luxurious fabrics were favored by the upper classes, while more subdued colors and simpler fabrics were worn by commoners.

Symbolism and Embroidery

Ming Dynasty clothing often featured symbolic motifs and intricate embroidery, which could signify the wearer's social status, wealth, or personal beliefs. Dragons, phoenixes, flowers, and auspicious symbols were commonly used in embroidery to convey prosperity and good fortune.

Cultural Protection

In the field of cultural preservation, recent research has highlighted the effectiveness of modern digital technologies, such as CLO3D, in recreating traditional Chinese clothing from the Ming Dynasty. This innovative approach allows for precise modeling of fabric texture, color, and garment structure, providing a valuable tool for historians and cultural preservationists[26] (Yang et al., 2021). These developments are significant as they offer new methods for accurately preserving and understanding historical garments, which were previously reliant on traditional replication techniques. This intersection of technology and historical study presents an exciting advancement in the conservation of cultural heritage, making it an important addition to related Wikipedia pages.

Qing Dynasty

Qing Dynasty Python Robe

During the Qing Dynasty, violent means were used to promote shaving and changing clothing, and men's clothing was unified according to Manchu customs. In the ninth year of the Shunzhi reign (1652), the "Regulations on Clothing, Colors, and Shoulders" were promulgated, abolishing the crown clothing with a strong Han ethnic color. All men in the Ming Dynasty wore loose fitting clothes, long stockings, and shallow shoes, with their hair tied up in a bun; In the Qing Dynasty, he shaved his hair and kept braids, with the braids hanging down his head. He wore thin horseshoe sleeves and arrow clothes, tight socks, and deep boots. But there is a clear distinction between official and civilian clothing according to the law. The development of women's clothing in the Qing Dynasty varied between the Han and Manchu ethnic groups. During the Kangxi and Yongzheng periods, Han women still retained the styles of the Ming Dynasty, with the trend of small sleeved clothes and long skirts; After the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the clothes gradually became thicker and shorter, the cuffs became wider, and with the addition of cloud shoulders, there was no end to the endless variety of renovations; By the late Qing Dynasty, urban women had already worn skirts and pants, adorned with lace and rolled teeth, and most of the expensive clothing was spent on them. Manchu women wear "flag clothing", comb flag buns (commonly known as two heads), and wear "flower pot bottom" flag shoes. As for the so-called flag clothing that has been passed down in later generations, it has long been mainly used in the palace and the royal family.

Official uniforms of the Qing Dynasty

The main types of official clothing in the Qing Dynasty were long robes and jackets. The official hat is completely different from the previous dynasty. All military and political personnel above the rank of sergeant wear a small woven hat that looks like a bamboo hat. According to the winter and summer seasons, there are warm hats and cool hats, and different colors and materials of "tops" are installed depending on the grade. A bundle of peacock feathers is dragged behind the hat. Feathers are called flower feathers, and high-end feathers have "eyes" (round spots on the feathers) and can be classified into single, double, or triple eyes. Those with more eyes are considered precious, and only princes or ministers with outstanding achievements are rewarded and worn. The emperor sometimes rewards wearing a yellow coat to show special favor. As a result, other colored coats gradually became popular among officials and gentry, becoming common formal attire. Officials above the fifth rank also hang court beads, made of various precious jewelry and fragrant wood, which constitute another characteristic of the Qing Dynasty official attire. The advancement of silk spinning, embroidery and dyeing, as well as various handicraft specialties, created conditions for the enrichment of clothing varieties in the Qing Dynasty.

Republican era

Students at Shantung Christian University, 1941

The abolition of imperial China in 1912 had an immediate effect on dress and customs. The largely Han Chinese population immediately cut off their queues they had been forced to grow in submission to the overthrown Qing dynasty. Sun Yat-sen popularised a new style of men's wear, featuring jacket and trousers instead of the robes worn previously. Adapted from Japanese student wear, this style of dress became known as the Zhongshan suit (Zhongshan being one of Sun Yat-sen's given names in Chinese).

For women, a transformation of the traditional qipao resulted in a slender form-fitting dress with a high cut. This new "cheongsam" contrasted sharply with the traditional qipao but has largely replaced it in modern fashion. In the early republican period, the traditional dudou underbodice was largely abandoned in favor of Western-style corsets and bras.

Early People's Republic

Early in the People's Republic, Mao Zedong inspired Chinese fashion with his own variant of the Zhongshan suit, which would be known to the west as Mao suit. Meanwhile, Sun Yat-sen's widow, Soong Ching-ling, popularized the cheongsam as the standard female dress. At the same time, clothing viewed as backward and unmodern by both the Chinese as well as Westerners, was forbidden.

Around the Destruction of the "Four Olds" period in 1964, almost anything seen as part of traditional Chinese culture would lead to problems with the Communist Red Guards. Items that attracted dangerous attention if caught in the public included jeans, high heels, Western-style coats, ties, jewelry, cheongsams, and long hair.[27] These items were regarded as symbols of bourgeois lifestyle, which represented wealth. Citizens had to avoid them or suffer serious consequences such as torture or beatings by the guards.[27] A number of these items were thrown into the streets to embarrass the citizens.[28]

Modern fashion

Further information: Impact of fast fashion in China

Hong Kong clothing brand Shanghai Tang's design concept is inspired by historical Chinese clothing. It set out to rejuvenate Chinese fashion of the 1920s and 30s, in bright colors and with a modern twist.[29][30] Other Chinese luxury brands include NE Tiger,[31] Guo Pei,[32] and Laurence Xu.[33]

In the year 2000, dudou-inspired blouses appeared in the summer collections of Versace and Miu Miu, leading to its adoption within China as a revealing form of outerwear.

For the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens tournament, sportswear brand Kukri Sports teamed up with Hong Kong lifestyle retail store G.O.D. to produce merchandising, which included traditional Chinese jackets and cheongsam-inspired ladies polo shirts.[34][35][36]

In recent years, renewed interest in traditional Chinese culture has led to a movement in China advocating for the revival of hanfu.[37][38][39] As an increasing number of Chinese people like and attach importance to hanfu, hanfu no longer only appears in Chinese drama as in the past.


See also


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  2. ^ a b Brown, John (2006). China, Japan, Korea: Culture and Customs. Createspace Independent Publishing (published September 7, 2006). p. 79. ISBN 978-1419648939.
  3. ^ "Mountaintop cave man ruins". History teaching resource library.
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  6. ^ Zhouli [Zhouli] (in Chinese). Jinlang Academic Publishing House. 2017. p. 295. ISBN 978-3330821347.
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  17. ^ "三国时期的服饰文化 - 百度文库". Retrieved 2024-05-09.
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  26. ^ Yang, Shuran; Yue, Li; Wang, Xiaogang (August 2021). "Study on the structure and virtual model of "xiezhi" gown in Ming dynasty". Journal of Physics: Conference Series. 1986 (1): 012116. Bibcode:2021JPhCS1986a2116Y. doi:10.1088/1742-6596/1986/1/012116. ISSN 1742-6596.
  27. ^ a b Law, Kam-yee. [2003] (2003). The Chinese Cultural Revolution Reconsidered: beyond purge and Holocaust. ISBN 0-333-73835-7
  28. ^ Wen, Chihua. Madsen, Richard P. [1995] (1995). The Red Mirror: Children of China's Cultural Revolution. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-2488-2
  29. ^ Broun, Samantha (6 April 2006). "Designing a global brand". CNN World. Archived from the original on 26 October 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  30. ^ Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9.
  31. ^ 1 Archived 2014-01-10 at the Wayback Machine.
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  33. ^ "China's Hainan Airlines: Coolest cabin crew uniforms ever?". CNN World. 14 July 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  34. ^ "G.O.D. and Kukri Design Collaborate for the Rugby Sevens". Hong Kong Tatler. 16 March 2012. Archived from the original on 15 August 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
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  39. ^ Zhou, Dongxu (June 18, 2015). "China Prepares 'Traditional Culture' Textbooks for Its Officials". Retrieved July 30, 2016 – via Caixin.

Further reading