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Traditional Chinese garment makes stylish comeback

By WANG XIN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-14 06:40
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The Shanghai Textiles Museum's ongoing exhibition Splendid Mamianqun. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Mamianqun becomes trendy among younger generations as modern iterations reflect self-expression, Wang Xin reports.

The mamianqun, translated as the "horse-face skirt", is a type of traditional clothing that is making a comeback as the latest fashion trend, gaining increasing popularity among younger Chinese generations, according to those in the know.

The curators of an ongoing exhibition, Splendid Mamianqun, at the Shanghai Textiles Museum, made the above observation, due to the emerging trend of young people's growing sense of cultural pride.

Mamianqun is a type of hanfu that features a high, flat front and pleated sides. It originated in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and maintained its popularity during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911).

Launched on May 18, the two-month exhibition showcases dozens of mamianqun, including over 40 pieces from the ancient dynasties and 12 modified skirts with innovative designs. The exhibition has attracted a large number of visitors, many of which came dressed in mamianqun — both males and females, says Jia Yiliang, curator of the Shanghai Textiles Museum and a curator of the exhibition.

"There is an old saying — 'You are what you wear'. Mamianqun embodies the aesthetic, philosophy and wisdom of ancient Chinese dressmakers, reflecting the status, thoughts and experiences of the people wearing them," Jia says.

"Mamianqun, as a type of clothing, is also a language of self-expression and is close to our daily lives. You can either admire them from a professional perspective for the craftsmanship, technique and philosophy, or simply from a personal view and preference."

Despite the long history of mamianqun, it was not until recent years that this traditional garment drew extensive focus, gaining international attention on the ancient Chinese skirt.

Ma Wenjuan, one of the curators of the exhibition and deputy director of the Journal Center at Donghua University, was among the first to introduce in details the skirt to more people in 2022.

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