Just like every other culture, china also has its Chinese traditional dresses for men and women. China is known for having a long history of various dynasties. Each of the dynasties influenced and specialized the traditional clothing in its own way.
However, some clothes stood out from the rest because of their appeal to others. In these clothes, you will get a reference of how it went through evolutions because of the dynasties.
The Chinese people can be seen wearing traditional attire in festivals. During that time, the price of these clothes was also high because of their increased demand. People can also wear them during get-togethers or other events because traditional dresses are very versatile.
Although, for casual hangouts or office meetings, the traditional dress is avoided to maintain formality. Foreigners can also purchase Chinese traditional dresses as a souvenir during their visit to China.
The history of China is very dense and rich. There is a lot to learn about their culture, especially their clothes and fashion. In this article, we will talk about the Chinese traditional dress and how they came into origin.
History of Chinese Traditional Dress
China was the first country in the world to start cultivating silkworms and develop silk weaving. Since the Neolithic ages, 5000 to 6000 years ago, Chinese people have acknowledged weaving. The Chinese traditional clothing has various varieties of suits and clothes depending on the different occasions. As China is a vast country with ancient civilization land, various ethnic groups have managed to create different types of suits. All the different types of cloth have their unique way of sewing methods and making along with their lucky pattern exquisites.
Back in the day, the traditional dress had a lot more to say about a certain person than it does now. In the ancient Chinese feudal society, people’s social status and rank could be identified using their daily dress. This was mostly applicable to the upper class or ordinary people. Since traditional clothes were expensive back then, working-class people did not wear them on a daily. For the upper class, only the emperor could wear yellow along with the dragon emblem on traditional Chinese imperial dress as an exclusive affirmation of strength. As for the generals, councilors, ministers, or their wives, the uniforms were restricted on how many lions or cranes could be embroidered on.
Types of Traditional Chinese Dresses
Now we will be talking about the different types of traditional Chinese dresses that were influenced by the changing dynasties.
1. Han Clothing:
The Han dynasty lasted from 206 BCE to 220 CE and it was China’s second imperial dynasty, along with an age of economic prosperity. Because of this, it is regarded as one of the most influential and powerful dynasties in Chinese clothing history. There were two main types of robes for both genders: the curved hem robe and the straight hem robe. Women also had the freedom of adding a cross-collar wrap shirt along with a long skirt with their robe.
On the sash or belt, people could also adorn different ornaments, called pei, which were for decorating the Hanfu. The higher the social status, the more decorations would be on the belt. While men wore hats, women wore headpieces with their Hanfu. For men and women, the clothing styles were very similar so ornaments and different colored fabrics were used to distinguish between the genders. This era was known for its “dark style” because all the clothes were mostly in black and red colors fabrics. In modern times, young people are honoring their heritage by choosing Han clothing over other types.
2. Tang Suit:
The Tang dynasty, from 618 to 907 was in charge of bringing the Tang suit in fashion. It is a type of Chinese jacket but it actually dates back to the Qing dynasty era. The magua, also known as horse gown was used to develop this type of clothing. Overseas people used to know the Tang empire as very prosperous and powerful in the world. for that reason, foreigners used to call Chinese people “tang people” and the clothes “Tang suits”.
The authentic Tang suits had Chinese characters on them to express best wishes and good luck. Characteristics of Han clothing include wide sleeves and a loose layered look along with clothes that consist of two or more garments. The characters commonly seen were shou, meaning lovely, and fu, meaning happiness. Kids are usually seen wearing Tang suits on the Chinese New Year while adults go for mandarin collar suits in red colour for celebration.
3. Cheongsam or Qipao Dresses:
The 17th century was the time of the Qing dynasty. As the nomadic Manchu people overthrew China’s Ming dynasty, the Qing dynasty took over from 1636 to 1912 CE. Over a long time, this empire was in rule which means they have created a long-lasting effect over their kingdom which ceases to last till this day. When people think about Chinese traditional clothes, they typically think about the qipao, also known as cheongsam.
The qipao or cheongsam was originally the dress for Manchu women. Even in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the qipao gained popularity. Shanghai-styled cheongsams are more commercial and forward-looking. A lot of Western elements and colors are used to design these qipao dresses. Whereas Hong Kong-style qipaos are influenced by European fashions. The sleeves are much shorter than the Shanghai ones and the decorations are also very simple.
4. Ming Dynasty Dresses:
Throughout China’s history, there are timelines or parts when all of imperial China was ruled by non-Han people, mostly from Mongolia or Manchuria. The Ming dynasty is one of them and they lasted from 1468 to 1644 CE. The start of the Ming dynasty showed a restoration of Han control so they aimed the Ming ruling class to promote Han culture and try to grow the Han sense of identity within this regime.
As a result, a lot of clothing styles are similar to the Han dynasty. Men’s fashion consisted of square collars and patterns which are helpful to differentiate between social rank and class. These patterns are mostly of embroidered designs of plants, animals, and geometric patterns. Men were usually seen with their hair in a bun and officials wore a futou. As for women, their clothing became even more modest during this era. Women usually wore a midi-length upper garment over a floor-length skirt. Some also wore a pleated skirt along with a cross-collar cotton top which went down below the waist. In these times, light colors were very popular.
In modern times of Asian clothing, there are no limitations on what you can wear. However, China traditional dresses usually consisted of the color red, had classic designs, and were mostly made using the best supply of silk from the market. The quality of these clothing items is very high so you would also have to pay a high price to purchase them.
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