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Official uniforms for rulers and officials of the Qin and Han dynasties

During the Qin and Han dynasties, emperors still followed the custom of pre Qin emperors wearing crowns and robes during major sacrificial ceremonies. The twelve crowns were still the privilege of the emperor, and the crown could only be worn by the emperor alone. This abolished the system of allowing high-ranking officials to wear it during the Zhou Dynasty. The coronal attire has become the exclusive attire of emperors. During the Han Dynasty, it was stipulated that the imperial crown was made of twelve imperial crowns (li ú) made of jade. The color of the crown is mainly black. On both sides of the crown, there are holes for inserting dry poles, tying them to a bun, and tying ribbons on both sides of the axe and tying them under the collar. On the two ears of the ribbon, there is also a pearl jade hanging on each, called “Chong Er”. Do not put it in your ear, just hang it by your ear. Those who wear a crown should not believe slander. The phrase “turn a deaf ear” in later generations originated from this. The coronal attire is based on a black top and a vermilion undershirt, with embroidered patterns and paired with knee covers, ribbons, and red. The crown coat has a medium plain yarn inside and leather straps and large straps on the outside. A large belt is added to the leather belt and made from plain (white raw silk) or refined (white silk). Large belt with plain surface and vermilion lining, surrounded by green on both sides, with upper vermilion brocade and lower green brocade. The large ribbon has six colors: yellow, white, reddish black, ethereal, and green, while the small ribbon has three colors: white, black, and green. A complete set of clothing consists of three jade rings, black ribbon, white jade double jade pendant, sword, red socks, and red. From then on, “carrying the sun and moon on one’s shoulders, carrying the stars on one’s back” became the basic form of imperial coronal attire in later generations

During the Qin and Han dynasties, men valued their robes and clothing, which originated from the deep clothing of the pre Qin period. Originally, it was only used as an inner lining for the formal attire worn by literati or as a home garment. During the Qin and Han dynasties, robes and clothing began to be worn as formal attire for officials during court meetings and ceremonies. The Qin Dynasty stipulated that those who reached the third rank or above should wear green robes and deep clothing. Ordinary people wear white robes, often made of hemp or silk. For over 400 years during the Qin and Han dynasties, robes have been used as formal attire. The clothing forms during the Western Han Dynasty were diverse, with single robes and cotton robes varying in length and length, as well as straight and curved collars. The styles of robes in the Han Dynasty were mostly large sleeves, with the cuffs partially contracted, called “qu”, and the full sleeves called “mei”. The collar and cuffs of the robe are embroidered with patterns such as squares, with a large slanted collar. The hem of the robe is adorned with floral edges, either in a dense row or cut into crescent shaped curves. According to the shape of the hem, it is divided into a curved robe and a straight robe.

1. Curved Train Robe

The Qu Xu robe is similar to the deep clothing of the Warring States period, with a triangular front and a trumpet shaped hem as the style of a long garment. Tight and narrow throughout the body, dragging the ground long down, with a trumpet shaped hem that does not expose the feet when walking. The skirt is twisted backwards from the collar to the armpits. The sleeves are wide and narrow, and the cuffs are often trimmed. Crossed collar, with a lower collar to expose the inner garment, sometimes revealing up to three or more layers of collar, hence also known as “triple garment”. Quxi robes were more common in the Western Han Dynasty, but gradually became less common during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Qu Xu Pao was favored by the subjects as a formal dress during the Western Han Dynasty. This style is not only suitable for men to wear, but also the most common style in women’s clothing (see Figure 4-3, Figure 4-4).

Official uniforms for rulers and officials of the Qin and Han dynasties


2. Zhiju Robe

Zhixu Robe, also known as “Dan Yu”, is a variation of Zen clothing that appeared during the Western Han Dynasty and became popular during the Eastern Han Dynasty. In the Western Han Dynasty, it could not be used as a formal dress and was only suitable for other occasions. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, it could be used as a formal dress. According to the Biography of Marquis Wu’an of Wei in the Records of the Grand Historian, “Yi Dan Yu enters the palace.”
The term “disrespectful” is related to the fact that during the Western Han Dynasty, pants were worn without a crotch and straight collared clothing was not well covered. During the Western Han Dynasty, only two pants were worn on the knees and tied to the waist with straps. Later, due to improvements in underwear, the curved and deep clothing that wrapped around the knees became redundant. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, straight collared robes gradually became popular, and because they were more convenient than curved collared robes, they were highly favored by officials. Ordinary men also wore this clothing.



3. Diamond patterned robe

The diamond patterned robe is mostly worn by officials of the Eastern Han Dynasty, with a noticeable constriction at the cuffs and lace embellishments on the collar and sleeves. It features a chicken heart style topless collar, revealing the underwear when worn. Belonging to the straight train style, there is often a row of dense folds at the hem, and some are even cut into crescent shaped curves. The waist of the robe is additionally wrapped with a skirt (see Figure 4-8). This type of robe was a common attire for officials during the Eastern Han Dynasty, suitable for both civil and military positions. Due to its shape resembling two ears, it is known as the Long Life Pattern, which means “longevity and good luck”. From the unearthed murals, pottery figurines, and stone carvings, it can be seen that those wearing diamond patterned robes are usually lined with white underwear. When civil officials wear this kind of clothing, they must wrap their heads in a scarf and add a virtuous crown to the frame.


In the early Western Han Dynasty, the clothes were 150 centimeters long, the sleeves were 250 centimeters long, the cuffs were 28 centimeters wide, and the waist was 60 centimeters wide. They were unearthed from the No.1 Han Tomb in Mawangdui, Changsha in 1972.



4. Cotton robe clothing

Mian Pao Fu was a woolen robe worn by officials during the Han Dynasty in winter. The fabric of the silk woolen robe is printed with colored yarn, and the lining, sleeves, collar, and edges are made of silk. The inner lining is filled with silk wool, and the sewing form is the same as other silk woolen robes.

(4) Zen clothes

Zen attire is the attire worn by officials in their daily Yan residences. The Chanxiang robe is a top-down style, with the same style as the robe, but without a lining. Wear it under a robe in the cold winter and use it as a shirt. In summer, officials and others can wear it alone during leisure time at home. Some Zen clothes can be worn over jackets for use. “Zen” here means single-layer clothing.



(5) Pants

There are three types of pants: hakama, loincloth, and calf nose loincloth. Louzi was the main interior decoration of officials during the Qin and Han dynasties. Hakama is a garment worn on the lower body of a robe. In the early days, it had no crotch closure and was similar to underwear, only able to cover the legs, so it is also called “shin clothing” (see Figure 4-10). Official men wear robes on the outside and hakama on the inside, which can both cover up
Covering the lower body can also keep you warm. The swing of the crotch (see Figure 4-11) and the calf nose loincloth are clothing that can be worn alone outside during leisure or summer for the general public. The calf nose loincloth is a type of short pants that fits the crotch and has been popular since the Han Dynasty.

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