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Posted by on Mar 27, 2015 in Chinese | 0 comments

The Art of Traditional Chinese Clothing: History & Features

The Art of Traditional Chinese Clothing: History & Features

The Traditional Chinese clothing has seen many influences and inspirations from different dynasties. Here is a look at some on Chinese clothing history, feature and types.

Chinese culture is just about the few surviving ancient cultures from the world. Chinese traditional dress has evolved over thousands of years, and many types of different dress exist within the kung fu films and historical epics which are set in ancient The far east. However, most of the more common clothing worn today has its origins within the Qing Dynasty and the Republican Amount of the early twentieth millennium.

Traditional Chinese Clothing

Traditional Chinese Clothing


Based on historical discoveries, Chinese clothes dates back to the later era of Paleolithic Times (1.7 million years ago – the 21st century BC). Materials used were of animal skins and decorations were of small stones and animal teeth. The “real” clothes were not invented until about 5,000 years ago by the Yellow Emperor. By the Shang Dynasty (17th century BC – 1046 BC), the basic features of traditional Chinese attire were created, as well as the general pattern of blouse plus skirt. Later, the long gown appeared during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 – 256 BC) and it co-existed with the blouse-skirt combinations for thousands of years, improving further as time passed. Then a great change occurred with the formation of the Republic of China, when Mao Suit became popular among the males and cheongsam among the females. In the early period of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Suit stayed popular among not only males, but also females. Later in the 1970’s, when the country implemented reform and opening policy, the masses gradually turned to western-style attire.

Features of Chinese Clothing

Different from costumes of other countries, Chinese clothing features is very distinctive and with profound Chinese culture. Because of relatively plain design and structure of traditional Chinese clothing, 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

Darker colors were much more favored than 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 use.

Red Color

Red is favorite for most Chinese people since Red symbolizes good luck in traditional mind. Chinese people prefer to wear in red when they are celebrating some important festivals or events in their life, such as wedding ceremony.

Colors and Seasons

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.

Types of Chinese Clothing

Types of Chinese ClothingTypes of Chinese Clothing

Types of Chinese Clothing

Three main types of traditional Chinese clothing are the pienfu, the changpao, and the shenyi.

  • The pienfu 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 changpao is a one-piece garment extending from the shoulders all the way to the heels.
  • The shenyi is a cross between the pienfu and the changpao; it consists of a tunic and a skirt or trousers like the pienfu, but the tunic and the skirt are sewed together and essentially one piece like the changpao. Consequently, the shenyi was the most widely worn of the three types. 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.

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