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Sui and Tang women’s clothing

Women’s clothing during the Sui and Tang dynasties is the most exciting chapter in the history of Chinese clothing development, characterized by elegance, vibrant colors, excellent texture, diverse patterns, reasonable cutting, and smooth lines. It not only inherits the tradition of previous generations of clothing, but also draws on the nutrients of social trends, presenting a rich and colorful, beautiful and open, and atmospheric and compatible characteristics of women’s clothing, leaving a rich and colorful mark on the history of Chinese culture.


1、 Empresses and noblewomen’s formal attire during the Sui and Tang dynasties
The Tang Dynasty’s Wu De Ling stipulated that there were three main types of formal attire for empresses and noble concubines: Yi Yi, Ju Yi, and Dian Chai Li Yi. These formal attire evolved from traditional ceremonial attire, among which the Dianchai ceremonial attire includes the Ru skirt clothing, the long sleeved gauze shirt, and the golden emerald flower Dian on the hair bun, and is clearly identified by the number of Dianchai. The historical records of the Tang Dynasty, such as the “Tongdian”, “Tang Huiyao”, “Old Book of Tang · Yufu Zhi”, “New Book of Tang · Chefu Zhi”, and “Kaiyuan Li”, all have records, such as “those who wear a hairpin and ceremonial attire, the wife of the inner destiny often participates in it, the wife of the outer destiny participates in it, Ci Jian, and the attire of the ceremonial meeting. They are made of the same clothing as Zhai Yi, with additional accessories… First grade nine hairpins, second grade eight hairpins, third grade seven hairpins, fourth grade six hairpins, and fifth grade five hairpins.”. Dian Chai Li Yi, also known as the development style of deep clothing.

2、 Ru, skirt, and draped silk during the Sui and Tang dynasties
During the Tang Dynasty, women mainly wore skirts, with short clothes on top and long skirts on the bottom. The shirt and jacket are hidden inside the skirt, and the waist of the skirt is lifted to hide, presenting a Tang Dynasty aesthetic of “short clothes and long skirts”.

(1) Short shirt, short jacket, large sleeved gauze shirt

The typical attire for women in the Tang Dynasty was to wear a short fu or shirt on the upper body, a long skirt on the lower body, a waist tied shirt, a light and thin large sleeved gauze shirt on the outer cover, a colorful shirt on the shoulders, and high toed shoes on the feet. Among them, short shirts refer to clothes made of light and thin fabric, which are used in summer. There are two types: paired and right side, and sleeves are divided into two types: wide and narrow. The style of the jacket and shirt is basically the same, and the main favorite is the thickness of the fabric. A jacket with a jacket or thin cotton lining. The collar shape of shirts and jackets is influenced by the ethnic clothing of the Western Regions. In addition to cross necks, there are also straight necks, square necks, round necks, chicken heart necks, Zulu low necks, and flip necks. The low neckline of the Fu period was only popular among palace concubines and Kabuki, and later even wealthy and noble women were favored. There were inlaid silk brocade or gold colored patterns and embroidery techniques on the collar, cuffs, and other parts. “The silk robe and leaves were embroidered heavily, with a cluster of gold, phoenix, and silver geese,” indicating that gold, silver, and colored embroidery was already very common in noble women’s clothing at that time. Shirts and jackets

The colors mainly include red, light red, light ochre, and light green.

Making women’s clothing with gauze fabric was a characteristic of Tang Dynasty clothing, not only used for underwear, but also for outerwear. Large sleeved gauze shirt with a front and large sleeves. The fabric is lightweight and transparent. In Zhou Fang’s “The Painting of a Lady with a Hairpin Flower”, the aristocratic attire of the ancestors is depicted as “a slow tied skirt with half exposed breasts”

Sui and Tang women’s clothing
A woman with flowers on her head, wearing a Ru skirt, wearing a large sleeved gauze shirt on the outside, and wearing silk on her shoulders and back/Part of Zhou Fang’s “Beauty with Hairpin Flowers” painting

The long sleeved double breasted gauze shirt should have originated from the Middle Tang Dynasty, flourished from the late Tang to the Five Dynasties, and ended in the Song Dynasty.

(2) Skirts, pomegranate skirts

Influenced by the legacy of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, women in the Sui and Tang dynasties often wore long skirts, with the skirt length reaching the ground, the waist of the skirt reaching up to the chest, and the hem forming a circular horn shape. The colors of the skirt were mainly red, purple, yellow, blue, and other colors. Usually sewn with 5 pieces of silk, there are also six or seven pieces, and some even use materials of 9 or more.

In the Tang Dynasty, the width of cloth and silk was one foot and eight inches (about 30 centimeters per foot in the Tang Dynasty), and even a skirt made of five pieces of fabric required 2.7 meters of material. The bulky and loose skirt made it inconvenient to walk, so it was necessary to wear high head silk shoes. The silk shoes had a very high shoe head in front of them, protruding from the hem of the long skirt, showing a rich and elegant demeanor.

The pomegranate skirt is the most famous skirt of the Tang Dynasty, named after the color of the skirt, such as pomegranate flower red. The style is a narrow and wide long skirt. In “Five Days of Observing Prostitutes,” Wan Chu of the Tang Dynasty said, “Mei Dai snatched the color of Xuan Cao, and the red skirt was jealous of Shi Ge.” Don’t hate the broken red skirt, don’t blame the low white house. “The pomegranate skirt is a middle Tang flower.” Wei Zhuang’s “To My Concubine” also sings: a dress color highly favored by young women. As the saying goes, men are conquered by beauty, which is called “bowing down under a stone skirt” and is still used vividly today.


A pomegranate skirt actually refers to a pomegranate colored skirt

(3) Draped silk

Phi silk is a long strip shaped scarf made of thin gauze with printed or woven patterns on it. It can reach a length of more than two meters, draped over the shoulders, wrapped around the arms, and swayed naturally with the wind when walking. There is also a type of cloth with a wider banner and shorter length, which is mostly used by married women. Wearing a skirt with half an arm and draped with silk became a typical image of women in the Tang Dynasty.

3、 Half arm during the Sui and Tang dynasties
Half arm, also known as a short coat without a collar, half sleeves, and a front. Its characteristics are that the length of the garment is below the waist, with short sleeves and wide cuffs, straight shoulder sleeves, half sleeves to the elbow, a spacious collar, and a tie on the chest. Paired with skirts and clothing, it can be worn by both men and women outside of the garment. It was popular from the early Tang Dynasty to the middle Tang Dynasty, but gradually decreased from the late Tang to the Five Dynasties period.

4、 Ni Shang Yu Yi
A type of dance costume from the Sui and Tang dynasties, made of peacock feathers, with a narrow collar, thin sleeve roots, and large cuffs. When dancing, it looks like a flying crane in the clouds (see Figure 6-27, Figure 6-28). There are many descriptions of this kind of clothing in Tang Dynasty poetry and literature. For example, Bai Juyi once participated in the dance, and the most memorable one was that “the dancers in front of the table were as beautiful as jade, not dressed in common clothes. Rainbow clothes, Xiapei steps, and swaying crowns, with numerous earrings and necklaces adorning Shanshan (” Dance Song of Nishang and Yuyi “).”.

5、 Women wearing men’s clothing during the Sui and Tang dynasties
In the Tang Dynasty, it became a social trend for women to wear men’s clothing, which was most popular during the Kaiyuan and Tianbao periods, with the main cities being Chang’an and Luoyang. The characteristics of women’s and men’s clothing are: wearing men’s soft footed buns on the head, wearing men’s narrow sleeved round necked robes, missing silk robes, tied with a bow belt at the waist, wearing small mouth pants, and wearing six in black leather boots or brocade shoes. Wearing men’s clothing for women was a reflection of the openness of Tang Dynasty society. Wearing men’s clothing for women not only maintained the beauty and handsomeness of women, but also added a graceful and handsome demeanor. According to “Annotations to the Ancient and Modern Times of China”, “In the middle of the Tianbao year, the wife of a scholar wore her husband’s boots, clothes, whips, and hats, integrating the inside and outside.” Tang Dynasty painters Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang depicted the scene of women wearing men’s clothing in ancient paintings such as “The Spring Tour of the Lady of Guo State” and “The Painting of Lady with a Fairy Fan”. During the prosperous Tang Dynasty, it was quite common for women to imitate men’s clothing, which became a distinctive feature of Tang Dynasty women’s clothing.

6、 Women wearing Hu clothing during the Sui and Tang dynasties
During the prosperous Tang Dynasty, it was still popular for women to wear Hu clothing, especially among palace and aristocratic women in the capital. The clothing style of the Huihe ethnic group was mainly popular. The Uyghur people, also known as the Uyghur people, are the ancestors of the Uyghur people today. The clothing features a lapel, narrow sleeves, and embroidered edges at the collar, sleeves, and hem. The head is adorned with a high top felt hat, the waist is tied with exposed straps, and there are various decorations on the top. The lower body is wearing small mouth pants, and the feet are wearing high toe boots. The frequent economic and cultural exchanges between the Uyghur people and the Han people had a significant impact on the Tang court and aristocratic women, including the clothing and dance of Uyghur women.

7、 Women’s shoes and shoes during the Sui and Tang dynasties
During the Sui and Tang dynasties, women’s shoes and shoes were diverse and varied, including high head shoes, cloud head shoes, phoenix head shoes, flat head shoes, round head shoes, and thread boots. The weaving technique of grass shoes is already very exquisite, and grass shoes woven with cattail are as fine as silk. High headed shoes, also known as “heavy platform shoes,” have a high and raised front that resembles a heavy platform. These shoes were most commonly worn by women in the Tang Dynasty. Thread boots are round toed shoes made by weaving colored thread into the upper and hemp thread into the sole (see Figure 6-35). In the “New Book of Tang, Chefu Zhi”: “During the period of Wu De, women wore shoes and thread boots.” Cloud headed shoes were named because their raised heads were shaped like clouds (see Figure 6-36). The shoes of the brocade boots are higher, and the upper part is tightened with straps and embroidered with colors (see Figure 6-37). The shoe style made of silk is no different from that of men, with only changes in the shape of the toe and the weaving and embroidery on the shoes.

8、 Foot binding bad habit
Embracing feet is also known as foot binding, wrapping small feet, or wrapping small feet. Foot binding is a unique bad habit in feudal society in China. From the age of four or five, girls in feudal society began to play with their feet, using a narrow cloth strap to weave their feet into intricate patterns, resulting in abnormal muscles and bones, and a slender and curved foot shape that was in line with the times

Beautiful. It is not until the bone is formed in adulthood that the bandage can be untied, and there are also lifelong entanglements. The bad habit of binding feet had already appeared before the Han Dynasty. Legend has it that in ancient times, Yu’s wife and sister were already small feet, but it was not widespread at that time. It is generally believed that women’s foot binding began during the Five Dynasties period

According to historical records, it is related to the concubine of the Southern Tang Dynasty’s later ruler Li Yu.

The earliest person to study the origin of foot binding was Zhang Bangji of the Song Dynasty. He believed that “women’s foot binding originated in modern times, and there is no record of it in previous generations. However, according to the” Daoshan News “,” Empress Li’s palace concubine Su Niang Xian Li is good at dancing, and later she made a golden lotus six feet high… “Empress Li ordered her to wrap her feet with silk, and made her slender and small to bend up

Moonlight like, dancing with bare socks in the clouds, swirling with a cloud like posture… This is why everyone imitates it, using a slender bow as a skill This is to know that foot wrapping has come from the Five Dynasties. Before the reign of Xining and Yuanfeng, there were still few people who did anything, but in recent years, everyone has been following suit, and it is a shame to not do anything So, starting from the Five Dynasties and extending to the people

The bad habit of binding feet among women not only affects the style of shoes, but also affects their physical health. After the Xinhai Revolution, the bad habit of binding feet was gradually abolished.

9、 The evolution of women’s clothing styles during the Tang Dynasty
From the Sui Dynasty to the early and prosperous Tang Dynasty, and then to the late Tang Dynasty, women’s clothing underwent an evolution from narrow to loose and bulky. During the Sui and early Tang dynasties, women’s clothing had a slender and straight silhouette, showcasing the beauty of elegance; In the prosperous Tang Dynasty, women’s clothing had a wide and plump silhouette, with a long skirt that swayed the ground, displaying the beauty of grace, luxury, and fullness; In the late Tang Dynasty, the silhouette of women’s clothing was still mainly plump, but the overall shape was in the shape of a hanging bell, showing a dignified and magnificent beauty. From the early Tang Dynasty to the middle Tang Dynasty, influenced by the development of the aristocratic women’s skirts towards a wider range, the sleeves of ordinary people’s clothing also became larger, with high waistline skirts and short sleeved half arm shirts, and wide and fat pomegranate skirts were popular among women. After Emperor Wenzong ascended the throne, he faced the widespread pursuit of luxury throughout the country, and gradually implemented various prohibitions on extravagance by using square cars and clothing to usurp luxury. In various historical records, it is explained as the frugality of Emperor Wenzong, who deeply despised the extravagant trend at that time. Emperor Wenzong was determined to seek reason and engage in political discussions with his officials. He deeply despised extravagance, so whenever he tried to save others, he prioritized frugality and frugality, gradually improving the effectiveness of his actions; The emperor’s nature is respectful and frugal, and he detests extravagance. The common people are responsible for their own affairs, so there is a decree; The emperor is frugal and does not like extravagance. The “New Book of Tang, Chefu Zhi” once mentioned the implementation of a nationwide ban: “Women’s skirts are limited to five pieces, and the ground is only three inches long.”. During the late Tang Dynasty, when Li Deyu, the prime minister, was appointed as the observer of Huainan, he requested the use of laws and regulations to impose restrictions, stating that for women with sleeves four feet long, they should be one foot and five inches wide, and for those with skirts that are four or five inches long, they should be reduced by three inches. Although the court has repeatedly issued bans on popular “fashionable makeup”, the effect has been limited. On the one hand, due to the vast territory and large population of the Tang Dynasty, it was difficult to implement; On the other hand, due to the lack of substantial punitive measures in most cases, it is often difficult to fully implement them. After the Yuanhe era, the trend of wide and plump clothing became more and more prevalent, and women’s appearance was valued for being fit and plump, which was also related to Emperor Tang Ming’s favor of Yang Guifei’s beauty. When the poet Bai Juyi of the Middle Tang Dynasty described the popularity of Yuanhe clothing in his poem “A Hundred Rhymes of Spring Poems for Dreams”, it was written as “graceful and thin grooming, wide attire in the world”. During the prosperous Tang Dynasty, the neckline of women’s clothing became larger and larger, and later generations regarded it as the mainstream of Tang Dynasty women’s clothing culture. At this time, the popular women’s clothing was a half breasted shirt with large sleeves, a double breasted shirt, a long skirt with silk draped over the shoulders, the skirt waist raised to the armpit, only covering the breast, and a large tie. The skirt was made of gauze fabric. The style is similar to the short jacket and long skirt worn by Korean women today. This kind of bare chest and large sleeved shirt is a common attire worn by aristocratic women for leisurely walks, flower picking, butterfly catching, and dog playing in the courtyard. From the overall effect, a short shirt and a long skirt drag the ground, making the body appear slender and beautiful. This is true of the fat lady in full dress in the mural “Madame Letinggui’s Fragrance Painting” in Cave 103 of the Mogao Grottoes of Dunhuang and the women in the three colored figurines at this time. During the late Tang to Five Dynasties period, women still wore high bun hairpins, patterned silk long sleeved shirts, and long skirts. The images of women in late Tang Dynasty murals and paintings can be seen everywhere with long sleeves and skirts. The unearthed pottery figurines from the states of Wu, Min, and Southern Tang, even the maids were dressed in silk and long sleeved robes. As recorded in the “History of the Old Five Dynasties, Book of Tang, Chapter 5 of the Annals of Emperor Zhuangzong”: “In recent years, women’s clothing has been exceptionally broad and extensive, with double the cost of silk and silk. Powerful families do not care about lowliness, but are aware of the rich and beautiful clothing, which is suitable for inspection.” In the later period of the Five Dynasties, long sleeved skirts continued to be popular throughout the world.

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