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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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Achang Clothes
Influenced by the neighboring Dai and Han people, men in Achang ethnic minority tend to wear blue, white or black jackets which button down the front, and black trousers.
Bai Clothes
The Bais' costumes and ornaments are eye-catching and exquisite. Clothes of men have little difference, simple and unadorned. But costumes of the Bai women vary a lot from each other.
Blang Clothes
Blang men dress themselves with a black round-collared jacket that buttons down the front and a pair of black loose pants. They wrap their heads with black or white cloth.
Bonan Clothes
Men of the Bonan ethnic minority always wear a white or black cap, a white gown and a dark blue waistcoat.
Bouyei Clothes
Clothes of men of Bouyei ethnic minority are almost the same with those of the Han men. However, Bouyei men still like to wear headcloth of black, blue or blue lattice cloth with white background.
Dai Clothes
The Dai men often wear a short collarless narrow-sleeved jacket with buttons on the right and trousers made of white or black cloth. They often dress in white.
Daur Clothes
In summer, men of the Daur ethnic minority wear fabric jackets topped with gowns, wrap their heads with a piece of white cloth and wear straw hats. In winter, they wear caps with two erect ears made of leopard scalp or fox fur, and leather shoes.
De'ang Clothes
De'ang women generally wear dark blue or black short jackets with buttons down the front that is inlaid with two strips of red cloth and sewn with four to five square silver fasteners.
Dong Clothes
Women of the Dong ethnic minority wear clothing made of homespun and home-dyed cloth. They wear collarless and broad-sleeved jackets without buttons and a small strip is attached to the edge of the jackets.
Dongxiang Clothes
Dongxiang women usually wear embroidered broad-sleeved clothes with a neckline around the collar, buttons down the front and embroidered lace on the cuffs.
Drung Clothes
Drung tapestries can be seen everywhere as house decorations. They are woven by hand with colorful threads spun from cotton and flax, soft and well designed. Cloaks made of these beautiful tapestries have become their unique traditional costume.
Ewenki Clothes
Clothing for herdsmen of the Ewenki ethnic minority includes a loose long gown buttoned down on one side with a long waistband. They put on a big fur coat when doing labor work. In winter, they wear jackets and pants made of longhaired, thick rawhide, together with boots, hats and gloves all made from animal skin.
Gaoshan Clothes
Aboriginals of the Gaoshan ethnic minority in Taiwan wear clothes in various styles made of linen and cotton fabric. Men generally wear a shawl, a vest, a short coat, a pair of shorts, a kerchief and cloth leggings. In some areas, they use bine or willow bark to make waistcoats, with refined handwork.
Gelo Clothes
In the past, Gelo women wore very short jackets with sleeves and cuffs embroidered with patterns of fish scale. They wore tight skirts divided into three sections, the middle one of red wool and the upper and lower ones of black-and-white striped linen.
Han Clothes
One of the characteristics of Han people's costume is that the front of the upper garments is buttoned on the right. In the late years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and early years of the Republic of China, men usually wore a shirt with buttons down the front, trousers and a long gown over it buttoned on the right or topped with a waistcoat.
Hani Clothes
Costumes vary among different clans of the Hani ethnic minority. This is especially so for women's clothes. Hani women in Honghe area wear collarless jackets with buttons made of silver coins down the left side of the front and long trousers.
Hezhe Clothes
The costume of the Hezhe people is almost the same as that of the Hans. The only difference is in the materials they use. In the past, clothes of the Hezhe people were mostly made of fish skin, roe skin or deer skin, among which fish skin dresses were considered their national dresses.
Hui Clothes
The typical costume of men of the Hui ethnic minority includes a white or black skullcap, a white short gown with a black waistcoat in summer. Women often wear a head covering that covers the head and shoulders entirely, leaving only the face exposed.
Jing Clothes
Jing women hang a piece of rhombic cloth to cover the chest, a narrow-sleeved collarless succinct short gown buttoned down the front and a pair of long and wide black or brown trousers. If they go out or visit friends, they add a narrow-sleeved, succinct cheongsam, usually in white, with high kick pleats. Wealthy people mostly wear black, white or brown clothes made of silk or gauze. Jing women like to wear earrings.
Jingpo Clothes
Young women of the Jingpo ethnic minority usually wear short jackets with buttons down the front middle or front left. Their jackets are always sewn with numerous silver bubbles and pieces.
Jino Clothes
Jino women usually wear collarless jackets buttoned down the front, with the upper sleeves made of black or white cloth while the lower part of cloth in seven colors such as red, blue, yellow and white.
Kazak Clothes
The Kazak men and women wear quite different costumes. In order to be convenient for riding, the clothes for men are always wide and well-knit. Women's clothes are colorful and have various styles.
Kirgiz Clothes
Kirgiz men usually wear a blue or black sleeveless long gown made of sheepskin or cotton cloth over a white round-collared shirt with embroidered laces.
Korean Clothes
White is the favorite color of Korean people, who have the reputation for being "the people in white".
Lahu Clothes
Men of the Lahu ethnic minority wear black headbands with black collarless short jackets buttoned on the right side or in the middle, and sloppy long trousers.
Lhoba Clothes
Lhoba men wear a waistcoat reaching the abdomen and wrap the back with a piece of urus skin. They wear a long gown inside the waistcoat and a round-topped cap made of bearskin or woven with bines, and carry with them arrows and a long knife. They keep hair, of which the part on the forehead reaches the eyebrows and the rest is scattered on the back.
Li Clothes
In the past, men of the Li ethnic minority usually wore simple clothes: just covering their body with a piece of cloth on the front and the back and surrounding the waist with another piece of cloth.
Lisu Clothes
The Lisu people used to wear clothes of handmade cloth.
Magpie Dress in Yunnan
In the Yunnan local dialect, a small intermontane plain is called a bazi. Baofengba in Puning County is a village inhabited by the Hans. When I saw Luo Meiying, the township leader, she wore a typical peasant dress: a black cloth scarf wrapped apron on her head, a white tight jacket covered with a black lace vest, an embroidered apron around her waist, blue pants and embroidered cotton shoes. Sensing my curiosity, she told me that it was called a magpie dress because the black head and body and white wings.
Manchu Clothes
In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Manchus all wear cheongsams. Cheongsams in the early period were inlaid with a welt of about 1 inch wide.
Maonan Clothes
In the past, both Maonan men and women liked wearing blue or black jackets either buttoned down the front or on one side.
Miao Clothes
Women of the Miao ethnic group pay much attention to the design, color and style of their costume. They often wear collarless gowns buttoned down the front or on the right and embroidered with pattern of flowers. Girls and unmarried women usually wear blue clothes, while middle- and old-aged women usually wear black clothes with white and blue waistbands.
Moinba Clothes
The Moinba women like to wear long-sleeved jackets in white, yellow or blue, pailform skirts with vertical lattices, a homespun and handmade long gown in red or black, and a waistband made of cloth. In some areas, women wear a piece of calfskin on the back, and white apron. Women usually arrange their hair into two plaits, and wear stringed ornaments made of colorful corals, beads, and stones.
Mongolian Clothes
The Mongolian people generally wear blue or black clothes. Women's upper garments include three layers: the first layer is a leotard with sleeves reaching the wrists, the second is the one in the middle reaching the buttock with sleeves only reaching the elbow, and the third layer is a collarless and sleeveless waistcoat with a row of round silver buttons.
Mulam Clothes
Several hundred years ago, men of the Mulam ethnic group wore a collarless gown buttoned down the front or on the right, and trousers.
Naxi Clothes
Naxi women living in Lijiang area typically dress in a wide-sleeved loose gown topped with a waistcoat, trousers, a pleated apron and a pair of boat-shaped embroidered shoes.
Nu Clothes
Influenced by neighboring ethnic groups, the Nu people do not have a uniform style of costume. In Gongshan area, their costume is similar to that of the Tibetans, with a long gown, a kerchief and a waistband. Nu women in this area used to wrap their body simply with two pieces of flax, put on adornments on the chest and penetrate their earlobes with two bamboo needles.
Oroqen Clothes
The Oroqen people used to live on hunting. The long history of hunting life influenced the creation of their unique dressing culture.
Peaked Hat of Jino Ethnic Minority
The Jino ethnic minority lives in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province and its neighboring areas in southern China.
Pumi Clothes
Pumi children, no matter girls or boys, all wear long linen gowns buttoned on the right with silver buttons on the collar, and cloth waistbands woven with various patterns and thread fringes on both ends. Girls keep long hair and arrange it into plaits decorated with red and green beads.
Qiang Clothes
The Qiangs dress themselves simply but beautifully. Men and women alike wear blue gowns made of gunny cloth, cotton and silk with sleeveless wool jackets.
Russian Clothes
The costume of the Russians is noted for its colorfulness. Men often wear split long robes and long trousers, or sometimes white embroidered shirts together with pantalettes. In winter, they wear leather or cotton-padded clothes and fur hats.
Salar Clothes
The short jackets worn by Salar men are a bit looser or shorter than those of the neighboring Han men. However, they wear narrow long gowns.
Costume in Ancient Times
The earliest costume originated from labor. Clothes first appeared during the reigns of Yellow Emperor, Yao and Shun, ending the phenomenon of wrapping simple things around their body. People wore such clothes at ceremonies like ancestor worship and sacrifices to the heaven and the earth.
She Clothes
Costume of the She women features embroidery, collar, buttons on the right side, embroidered patterns of flowers, birds, dragons and phoenixes on the pockets or even the cuffs.
Costume in the Han Dynasty
China's complete code of costume and trappings was established in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). The yarn-dyeing, embroidering and metal-processing technologies developed rapidly in the period, spurring changes in costume and adornments.
Shui Clothes
Men of the Shui ethnic minority mostly wear casual clothes with cloth buttons down the front. They usually wear blue or green clothes, a black or blue turbans and pailform pants. However, nowadays, quite a few men wear Sun Yat-sen Uniform (a military uniform-like dress with a closed collar).
Costume in the Ming Dynasty
There were many new changes in costume of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The outstanding feature was that the buttons on the forepart replaced the band knots in use for several thousand years.
Tajik Clothes
Tajik men wear a shirt, a collarless overcoat buttoned down the front, a long and wide colorful waistband and loose trousers.
Costume in the Northern and Southern Dynasties
Costume in the Southern Dynasty (386-589) were mainly short jackets and skirts. Ladies in skirts were especially regarded as orthodox, and those in trousers were regarded as impolite. Women wore white scarves decorated with blue silk ribbons at the time. Their long and narrow sleeves were decorated with gold-wrapped patterns. Dancers wore long gowns and very long ribbons.
Tatar Clothes
Men of Tatar ethnic minority group often wear an embroidered white shirt with a black short waistcoat or a black gown, black trousers and a cat with black and white embroidered patterns. Young men prefer a peaked cap. In winter, Tatar men wear black hat made of curly fur and long leather boots; herdsmen usually wear a kind of leather shoes made by themselves.
Beijing Silk Figurines
Made of thin silk, gauze, damask silk, etc, silk figurines produced in Beijing are a Chinese traditional handicraft. Folk cloth-pinpricked and color-pricked toys and other handicrafts are all closely connected with handcrafting silk figurines. The trade of silk and knit goods, which has existed in China since ancient times, created an optimal environment for the birth of silk figurines.
Costume in the Qin Dynasty
Due to the unification China, dressing styles in the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC) and Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) were somewhat consistent.
Tibetan Clothes
Formerly, the Tibetan people wore different kinds of clothes according to their occupations. Whatever the style, the outfits were generally bright-colored and included a hat, a robe, and a pair of shoes. The most gorgeous and expensive clothes and ornaments were worn by nobles and officials or by people participating in religious rituals.
Cross-stitch Embroidery Art
Cross-stitching, a type of embroidery, involves stitching one cross after another onto a fabric grid to form different patterns. Cross-stitched handkerchiefs and clothing accessories are unsophisticated and simple yet durable.
Fuzhou Women
In early times in Fuzhou City, South China, married women and unmarried women could be distinguished from each other according to their hairstyle.
Costume in the Qing Dynasty
The organization of political power mainly consisted of the rulers of the Manchu ethnic minority in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), so the customs of Manchu bannermen affected those of the Central Plains.
Tu Clothes
Young men of the Tu ethnic minority wear a terai laced with brocade, a small-collared long robe with tilted front, a black or purple waistcoat over the robe, a long embroidered band around the waist, trousers with a big crotch, and leggings with black upper part and white lower part. Old men wear a hat decorated with a piece of blue cloth in the shape of a horn, which can be rolled up or put down, a long robe, a black waistcoat over the robe, white trousers and black shoes.
Cut Silk (kesi)
Kesi, or Cut Silk, refers to silk tapestry with cut designs, and is a unique Chinese traditional silk weaving technique.
Lahu Ethnic Minority
The Lahu ethnic minority lives mainly in Yunnan Province, South China. In the very early period, they lived a nomadic life. Later on, they followed the exuberant grassland southward, and settled in the drainage area of the Lancang River in the south. Their habiliment reflects the nomadic culture of the minority at the earlier stage, and also shows their farming style in modern times.

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