weijin dynasty shen-clothes

 Chinese Traditional Dress-Wei and Jin Dynasties

Table of Contents

Demeanor of Wei and Jin Dynasties

During the period of Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, the thoughts of Laozi, Zhuangzi, Buddhism and Taoism became popular. In the ideological area, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism fought against each other and merged with each other. People began to show themselves through reflecting on their internal world and mental state, making human and personality itself become the center of philosophy and literature in this period. Compared with the solemn style of Shang and Zhou Dynasties and the dignified and rational style of Qin and Han Dynasties, the clothing style of Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties suddenly entered the romantic period, becoming dainty, delicate and graceful. It turned the gorgeous and colorful style to a fresh and natural one which made people feel like lotus flowers in bloom.

Scholars began to pursue “spirit, demeanor and mien “. Thus, loose clothes and wide ribbons became popular ranging from aristocrats to civilians. Many of the famous men in Wei and Jin Dynasties were naked or wearing a strange underwear similar to today’s halter shirt inside, and wearing a loose coat outside, but did not wear the middle cloths which serves as a match and foil, pursuing for a relaxed, natural, and casual feel. While women’s clothes were long skirts, big sleeves and layered laces used for decoration, showing elegance and grace.

Features of men's dress

  • 1.Shan/Unlined upper garment: In Wei and Jin dynasties, Shan was one of the characteristics of the upper-class clothing. It was developed on the basis of the traditional Han Chinese Clothing. And Its shape was similar with robe, but the cuff was different in that Shan has a spacious cuff. Most of the colors of Shan were plain and elegant, such as white.
  • 2.Pleated trousers: The upper clothes was short with big sleeves and the lower clothes was like bell bottom which women can also wear.
  • 3.Sleeveless garment: It derived from the northern nationality, and became popular between the states of Qi and Liang in southern dynasties. Generally, there are two pieces of it with one blocking chest and another blocking back. It was smaller than a half arm and made of cloth. Leather suspenders are used to connect the two pieces, and waist was tied with a belt.
  • 4.Headscarf and hat: In Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, the hats followed the Han system and evolved into small crowns and cage-shaped crowns. While headscarf was popular among scholar-officials


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Features of women's dress

1.Ru skirt: It basically followed the customs of the Qin and Han dynasties. Apparent features of Ru skirt were the short blouse and the broad skirt. The blouse was usually with crossed-collar, and the waist was laced with a tight belt, woman wearing which was usually in a wig.

2.Shen clothes: Compared with Shen cloths in Han Dynasty, there is a great difference of the Shen cloths in Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties in that the hem was decorated with silk woven ornaments which was wide on the top and narrow on the bottom whose shape looks like triangles overlapping with long streamer accompanied. Later, the streamer was removed, and the sharp corner ornaments looking like dovetail was lengthened.

3.Pei: Pei is a kind of women’s clothing originating from the Jin Dynasty, whose shape was like scarves.

4.Women’s hair accessories: In Wei and Jin Dynasties, there was a popular hair style called fake bun. Jin Chenggong’s (an emperor of the state of Jin) once wrote an article in particular to describe this kind of bun describing that the bun is inlaid with gold ornaments and it is strictly limited only to be used by women of high social rank.

Luoshen Appraisal Painting is the representative work of Gu Kaizhi, a famous painter in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. This work is based on the Ode to the Goddess of Luo by Cao Zhi, a famous writer in Wei. The figures in the painting vividly depict the women’s attire in the Wei and Jin Dynasties.

weijin dynasty shen-clothes

Costume changes from ethnic integration

During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, with the inland migration of the northern minorities and the large number of northern people flowing to the south, the costumes of the Central Plains and the south were deeply influenced by the customs of the northern minorities.

Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties is an era full of great ethnic integration and social upheaval in the long history of China. Therefore, its clothing culture and ideological culture also play a link between the preceding time and the following dynasties. Until today, some cloths still retain characteristics of Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties.


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