Top 10 Ancient Chinese Clothing that were popular in Ancient China


Ancient Chinese clothes were more than a garment to cover the body. It was the symbol of their dignity, embodiment of their culture and an essential part of their social status.  Rich and Poor dressed differently in Ancient China. Poor people used hemp clothes which were durable, loose fitting, and comfortable to work in the field. On the other hand, Rich people clothes were made of up silk. It dyed up with a specific color and could be turned into any fancy design.

Lower class people could be punished for wearing the silk clothing. The Color was an identity in Ancient China. An emperor could only dress in Yellow. Poor people were allowed to wear blue and black color during Shue Dynasty. When Mongols conquered the China, they bring the cotton with them. The uses of Cotton was started during Yuan Dynasty.

Chinese Fashion evolved with the time. However, Ancient Chinese clothes were very limited. Without any further due, here is the list of top 10 traditional Ancient Chinese Clothing

10. Tunics like long t-shirt (Xia Dynasty)

Tunics like long t-shirt

Ancient Chinese wore Tunics like long and short-sleeved robes. They use it with or without the belt. Mostly women wear long tunics that touched the ground with the belt. Men wear shorter own that touches till their knees. Initially, there were no buttons, it was developed after a long time. Some people wear an outer jacket to make them warm during the winter. It was commonly used during Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BCE).

9. Hanfu (Traditional Han Chinese Clothing) – Xia Dynasty

Hanfu (Traditional Han Chinese Clothing)

Hanfu refers to a traditional dress of Han Chinese people. It was also commonly known as Hanzhuang or Huafu. Huafu was the unisex custom assembled from several pieces of clothing.

  • Yi(Unisex) : Open cross-collar garment,
  • Pao (Men Costume) : Closed full-body garment
  • Ru : Open cross-collar shirt
  • Shan : Open cross-collar jacket that is worn over the yi
  • Qun or chang: Skirt for women and ku for men.

Hafu was derived from the Book of Han, that describe “he(Qu Li) came to the court several times to pay homage and was extravagant by the dressing style of the Han”.  Hanfu was designed to meet comfort and easiness. It was known by a crossing collar, waistband, and a right lapel

8. Adornment and Jewelry

Adornment and Jewelry ancient china

Adornment and Jewelry were not only the part of the fashion, it was the symbol of the social status. There were many rules about the uses of Jewelry. An individual could easily identify the social status of the person by looking at the uses of the jewelry. Men use belt hook or buckle, and women wore combs and hairpins in their hair. Ancient Chinese wore more silver than the gold. They also used other material like Blue kingfisher feathers, blue gems, and glass.

Ancient Chinese gave preference to jade over any other stone. They believed that jade had a human-like quality i.e hardness, durability, and beauty. The initial jade design was simple, but it evolved with the time. Ancient Chinese didn’t have a preference for earning. Neither men nor women wore it. Amulets were commonly used jewelry with a symbol of dragon

7. Pien Fu

Pien Fu ancient Chinese dress

Pien Fu is a ceremonial dress that consists of two pieces. It is a tunic, extended to the knees on the top, and a skirt that reach the length of the ankles. The skirt is mainly used in the formal occasion. This unique two pieces of dress were mostly available in a different color. The color represents different meaning in Ancient China. For instance, red represent summer, green was for winter, and black was for winter.

The pien, a cylinder shaped hat was worn with Pien Fu. The two combination greatly matched the style for the different occasion.

6. Sheni

Sheni chinese dress

Sheni is a modification of Pien Fu. It is a combination of a tunic and a skirt which were stitched together to become a single long suit. Sheni was extremely popular in Ancient China. It was common dress among the government officials and scholars. Sheni took lots of inspirations from the traditional dress Pien Fu. The cuts and folds, and draping of the dress using excessive clothing were inspired from Pien Fu

5. Chang Pao

Chang Pao ancient Chinese dress

Chang Pao is the single suit that covers most of your body from the height of the shoulders to the ankles. It is the mixture of other several Chinese dresses. It was a loose fitting dress, especially wear by a man.

Manchu Introduced Chang Pao . Manchu traveled from the Northern china where the winter was cold than Central china. The horseshoe was designed to protect their hand from cold in the winter. Men wrap the sleeves up while conducting their daily business or hunting.

4. The Shenyi

The Shenyi traditonal Chinese dress

Shenyi is the traditional Chinese men’s attire. It was mostly used in the formal occasion such as ceremonies, official function. The scholar-official wore it during the Song and Ming Dynasty. During Shang Dynasty, It has been used in many formal occasion and court dress. Later, it was carried out in Korea and japan. The dress declined its popularity during the Tang Dynasty.

Shenyi was made up of Ramie fabric that needs to be bleached. The Upper part of the cloth was made up 4 panels representing 4 seasons in a year, and the lower part is made up of 12 panels of fabric sewn, representing 12 months in a year.

3. Clothes for the Head (Phoenix crown, Tang Official headwear, Song official Headwear, Ming)

Phoenix crown Chinese dress

The cap or the hat had a long history in Ancient China. It was a part of the custom code.  men wear the hat and the women gave preferences to hairpieces for women. The hat was mostly seen on men when then reached 20. It is the signed that they had grown up. The ancient Chinese hat was quite different from today. It covered only the part of the calvaria with its narrow ridge instead of the whole head like a modern cap.

The cap also signifies the social hierarchical rule and social status. The poor weren’t allowed to wear the hat. During the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the cap was similar to the modern cap, but it must be matched with the head bang. During Liao (916-1125) and Jin Dynasties (1115-1234), people wore fur caps.

2. Paneling Lanshan

Paneling Lanshan Chinese dress

During Ming Dynasty, Paneling Lanshan was the formal attire, worn by scholar and students. It wasn’t worn with a crossed collar undergarments.

1. Dragon Robe

Dragon Robe royal Chinese dress

Dragon Robe was a daily dress of emperors. They considered a dragon to have emerged from heaven in ancient times. It had a round collar with buttons on the right. Most of the buttons were yellow in color because it was the official color for emperors.  Dragon role was symbolic. It was composite of many animals such as an eagle, a tiger, a snake, and a devil.

Final Conclusion:

Clothes were taken an internal symbolism in Ancient China. Dress was the part of the culture that represents each individual in the society. Archaeologists have found thousands of year old artifacts such as stone beads, ornaments, and woven silk. These findings were the clear representation of the uses of clothing in Ancient China. The traditional ancient Chinese clothing has changed over time.

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