Evolution of Traditional Chinese Apparel
Although a polarity exists between Han and Manchu populations, Chinese
costume actually reflects a long and complex interaction between them.
The wardrobe for the upper class Manchu and Han Chinese populations consisted
of a rather small range of garment types. Initially, there was an
obvious attempt to separate the two populations through their clothing.
However, an examination of construction details and decoration indicates
that they share a common background and that extensive intermixing of
both technical and decorative features occurred. For example,
general, distinctions between Manchu and Han Chinese garment styles were
a matter of profile and construction. Male garments were largely
the same for both populations. Chinese women wore shorter tunics
(calf length) and wore trousers underneath. A pleated skirt would
be worn over the trousers for formal occasions. Manchu women did
not wear trousers. Chinese
women bound their feet; Manchu women did not.
front over-flap fastening to the right, with loops and toggles in the Manchu
tradition, was generally adopted for Han Chinese clothing by the 19th century.
the use of contrasting borders on all Manchu garments after the mid-18th
century reveals Chinese fashion, as does the use of wide sleeves ending
with turned-back inner facings, which were preferred for Manchu women's
non-official garments in the 19th century. Both of these adaptations
were undoubtedly based on Han Chinese styles.
A. C. (1958).
Chinese Costume in Transition. Singapore:
V. (1982). Fashion in China. Dress,
J. E. (1983).
Decoding Dragons: Status garments in Ch'ing
Dynasty China. Eugene, OR:
University of Oregon Museum of Art.
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Updated: August 11, 1999
Copyright Belinda T. Orzada, University of Delaware, 1997. All rights