Chinese Traditional Dress:  Primitive Society to the Qin and Han Dynasties

Chinese clothing has a very long history, ranging from prehistory to modern times. Countless exquisite clothes are precious wealth of Chinese people. The development and evolution of Chinese clothing profoundly reflects the changes in social system, economic life and folk customs, and also carries people’s ideological culture and aesthetic concepts.

Primitive Society: Animal Skin Clothing

According to the research of excavated cultural relics, the origin of clothing history can be traced back to the late Paleolithic Age. In primitive society, people first wear clothes made of leaves and animal furs. Later, with the upgrading of tools, humans learned to use bone needles to connect cloth and cut it to fit their own size.

Primitive Society Animal Skin Clothing

About 10,000 years ago, people entered the Neolithic Age, and textile technology was invented. Since then, there have been artificial woven fabrics, and the form of clothing has also changed. Cloak style clothing such as headwear and singlet has become typical clothing, and accessories are becoming more and more complex.

Shang and Zhou Dynasties: the system of upper and lower clothing and crown clothing

The clothing materials of the Shang Dynasty were mainly leather, silk and linen. Due to the advancement of textile technology, silk and linen fabrics have become widespread.

During the Western Zhou Dynasty, the hierarchical system was gradually established, resulting in a corresponding crown clothing system, which was manifested in the differences in rank and clothing. The crown ministers had to adopt different forms, colors and patterns in their clothing on different ceremonial occasions.

Judging from the unearthed cultural relics of the Zhou Dynasty, although the clothes are different in complexity and simplicity, the upper and lower garments have been clearly distinguished, laying the basic shape of Chinese clothing.

Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period: Hu Fu and Shen Yi

During this period, the tremendous progress in weaving and embroidery techniques led to increasingly sophisticated clothing materials and a growing variety of types. Shen Yi became the casual clothes for the literati and officialdom at home, as well as the dresses of the common people, for both men and women. At the same time, due to continuous wars in various vassal states, officers and soldiers wearing robes and armor were unable to move. King Wuling of Zhao imitated Hu people wearing short clothes and pants to learn ride and shoot. This was an important clothing reform in Chinese history, and pants have been in vogue ever since.

traditional chinese dress han

Qin and Han Dynasties: Shen Yi

In the Qin Dynasty, the clothes were black in color. The Han Dynasty had a system called “Yu Fu”. During this period, clothing materials were richer than during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, and Shen Yi also gained new development. Especially in the Han Dynasty, with the establishment of the “Yu Fu” system, the distinction among the official ranks of clothing became more strict. The clothing fabrics of the Qin and Han dynasties still paid attention to embroidery. Embroidery patterns often include mountain clouds, birds, beasts, or vines and plants. Brocade has various complex geometric patterns, as well as full-width patterns woven with characters.

Traditional chinese dress Shen Yi

The name “Shen Yi” comes from the fact that when worn, it can cover the entire body of human. In production, the upper and lower garments are cut separately, and then stitched together at the waist to form a whole long garment, demonstrating the respect for the ancestors. Shen Yi symbolizes the oriental virtues of unity between heaven and human, magnanimity, fairness and integrity, and inclusiveness.

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