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Shenyun Performing Arts World Tour

September 2013, New York, USA

Han Couture: Knowledge and History

Han Couture: Dress Jacket

As one of the ancient civilizations of the world, China is also well known for its apparel. In its five-thousand-year history, China had established a splendid culture and made tremendous contributions to the advancement of human civilization. There were many dynasties in Chinese history; each dynasty had many styles of attire. Here we introduce the most popular style for women throughout the dynasties—the dress jacket.


Appreciation of the Designs from the First Han Couture Design Competition (1)

The beauty of this gold winning design is its beautiful color combination, put harmoniously together. This is a classic Tang style and known as short shirt jacket and long skirt. It was very popular among women from ordinary households to the palace during the Tang Dynasty, particularly during the early period of the dynasty.


Appreciation of the Designs from the First Han Couture Design Competition (2)

In Han clothing, the sleeves and the main body are connected, cut from one piece of fabric. In ancient times, sleeves were called mei, connected mei. Mei means connecting together and not separating. The idiom “Open a sleeve and provides shade” describes how big a sleeve can be. Fat sleeves were worn by scholars and narrow sleeves worn by the laborers. No matter what size the sleeves are, they connect with the main body.


Appreciation of works from Han Couture Design Competition (3)

The collar, waist belt and trimming are made of embroidered brocade. This kind of fabric with diamond-shaped lattice was abundant in the Song period. Its characteristic is a small compact design. The smallest design is called millet grid texture, as small as a grain of millet. The choice of fabric is very close to Song period style.


Han Couture: Song and Ming Dynasty Clothing

In Song Dynasty, men's garment continued to have the style of cross-collar with upper shirt pulled to the right side or straight collar plus turban head. The colors of the robes and shirts varied according to the rankings of the officials. From the emperor to all levels of officials, everyone wore simple head covering which slowly evolved into a hat. The only exception was that during religious ceremonies or formal court gatherings, everyone wore formal crowns. During that time, the scholars favored the old fashioned way and the most popular way was called Dongpo Wrap, a way to wrap a piece of silk around the head.