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Draped silk Hanfu

Phi silk is a type of accessory used in ancient women’s clothing, made of lightweight fabrics and silk fabrics, even found in men’s ancient clothing; Silk and satin fabrics, mostly worn by the Han ethnic group, were already used in murals during the Sui Dynasty and were widely popular during the Tang Dynasty. There are many ways to wear thin gauze woven with silver or gold and silver powder, and there are two types of cloth: one is a wider and shorter cloth, called a “pi zi”. When used, it is draped over the shoulder and is mostly used outdoors; Another type of fabric, with a shorter width but an increased length, is called Pi Silk. When used, it is often wrapped around both arms and is mostly used indoors.


Draped silk

Material shape

Phi silk is a long strip shaped scarf that is draped over the shoulder and wrapped around the back of the hand. It is usually cut from thin gauze and has patterns printed on it or woven with gold and silver threads.

According to experts’ research, silk is not an inherent attire of Middle earth, but may have originated from West Asia. More specifically, it originated from Persia, and the Persian habit of silk may have been influenced by Hellenization. It must be noted that there is controversy among some scholars who suspect that the silk was not invented locally in China. A tassel shaped ornament originating from Assyria and Babylon is the traditional Western shawl paired with TUNIC.

During the Southern and Northern Dynasties period

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, female donors wearing silk had already emerged. After the Kaiyuan period of the Tang Dynasty, long and short, wide and narrow silk drapes began to appear on the shoulders of every woman who pursued fashionable attire. In this way, each piece of silk is actually a result of internationalization. The confident and open-minded Han women of the Tang Dynasty pursued gorgeous and exquisite clothing. When sitting, the dress belt lingers on the delicate grass, and when walking, the skirt sweeps down the plum blossoms. Flowers and plants can also kiss each other’s beauty. In the “Old Book of Tang? Records of Public Costumes”, it is said: “Customs are extravagant, not in accordance with the rules, beautiful and beautiful, as one pleases. From the palace to the commoners, they imitate each other, regardless of their status.” Emperor Xuanzong of Tang once issued an edict that the 27 noblewomen in the palace, as well as those in Baolin, the imperial maidens, and the virtuous, must wear embroidered silk fabrics when accompanying and attending palace banquets. During the Dragon Boat Festival, palace maids also wear more luxurious silk drapes, known as holy scarves or longevity scarves.


Draped silk

During the Tang Dynasty

A beautiful woman from the Tang Dynasty, when standing, her silk drapes naturally like a tranquil pond, and when walking, she is graceful and stretched like the wind brushing against willows, complementing both movement and stillness. This additional clothing extends the visual effect of the body, and its appearance is not for practical purposes, but simply to create a lively and graceful appearance. However, this is not an illusory beauty that was unattainable during the Wei and Jin dynasties. High buns, silk drapes, half arms, and topless collars, with little combination of earthy lines and human beauty, do not rely on traditional ethical norms or the public’s vigilance towards women. They are products of women’s temporary aesthetic imagination under the influence of accidental factors. The fashion of wearing silk was inspired by the dance costumes of the popular Western Regions Kabuki at that time. Women in the Tang Dynasty drew inspiration from stage costumes, and their daily attire can also be elevated to performance costumes. In the later Beijing opera “The Heavenly Maiden Scatters Flowers”, Mei Lanfang danced long ribbons, which must have been an extreme display of the symbolism of wearing silk.

In order to enhance the artistic charm of their clothing, women in the Tang Dynasty wore “Pei” on their shoulders and arms when walking outside, to shield themselves from the wind and warm their backs. Wrap a longer strap than a drape indoors or in the palace garden – “drape silk”. Dragging around the shoulders, like a fairy descending to earth. In the Song Dynasty, women’s “drapery” became increasingly popular, from the “Xia drapery” of royal noblewomen to the “straight drapery” of ordinary women. With the development of history, these costumes gradually disappeared. However, long and square scarves similar to “Peizi” are still popular in modern society due to their practical functions. However, people can only occasionally appreciate the “draped silk” from Dunhuang flying paintings, unearthed pottery figurines, classical plays of film and television singing and dancing, or traditional weddings of the Han ethnic group, appreciating its graceful, romantic, and flying demeanor like a rainbow and brilliant glow.


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