Accessories and Motifs for Traditional Chinese Clothing

China is an ancient country with a very rich heritage. The thousands of years of history have laid a rich basis for the lives of its inhabitants today. While some of the ancient Chinese myths and cultural traditions have been forgotten or are no longer observed, many of them are still remembered and incorporated into everyday life. Taking a look into the cultural traditions of Chinese clothing can reveal a lot about the way that the people live.

One of the most interesting bits of Chinese can be found in what is known as the Jade Culture. Jade was a very fashionable emblem of ancient Chinese Culture. From very ancient times, during the Western Zhou Dynasty, jade has been used as a decoration that used to hang from the sash holding the Hanfu (a garment that was a part of the Ancient Chinese Clothing) closed. Jade was important in China not only because of its beauty, but also for its virtue and cultural significance. According to Confucius, jade had 11 virtues, some of which include beauty, purity and grace. Jade is of two types, soft jade, known as nephrite, which is native to China, and hard jade (jadeite) which was imported from Burma starting in the 1200’s.

227

One of the most recognizable symbols of china is the dragon. A derivative of the serpent, it had a scaly body and five claws. It is a symbol of auspicious power and has been even Chinese Folklore. This symbol is very obviously found in Ancient Chinese Clothing particularly on imperial robes. The rulers considered themselves descendants of the dragon and so the scenes pertaining to dragons on their clothes were indicators of their power. Traditionally, the Chinese being an agriculture-based nation are very dependent on water. So, the dragon is associated with the weather and is the bringer of rain and water in China. The dragon is also the embodiment of the yang (male). The female counterpart is known as the Fenghuang (the phoenix)

228

Some of the other popular motif designs are willow trees, chrysanthemums, cranes and bamboo. These are depicted on pottery, paintings, vases and of course clothes. Imagine owning a piece of Ancient Chinese Clothing complete with rich and elaborate patterns that once belonged to the rulers of this splendid civilization.

No Chinese object is complete without a depiction of at least one of the four favorite plants – the bamboo, the Chinese plum, chrysanthemum and orchid. Of these, the bamboo is used in the most versatile manner, from tableware – chopsticks and utensils – to flutes to paintbrushes and even hair accessories.

229

Combs made of bamboo, ivory, jade and other materials further enhanced the ensemble of Ancient Chinese Clothing of women. Headgear in ancient times included hats for men and hairpieces for women. Traditionally, the Chinese wear their hats indoors as well as outdoors unlike their Western counterparts. This is mainly because most hats are too impractical to take off and carry around.

230

Fashion of ancient China has constantly evolved through the various dynasties. For example, during the Sui Dynasty in the 500 AD, the emperor declared that only the rich people could wear colors while the poor people had to be dressed in blue or black.

 

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s