News Art Chinese-Way Heritage Delicacies Travel Movie People View Books Photos


Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty

Updated: 2011-03-10 15:53
Large Medium Small

Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty

In Chinese history, the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907) was a period of unity and prosperity when the polity and economy were highly developed.

Materialistic abundance and a relatively relaxed social atmosphere gave the Tang Dynasty an unprecedented opportunity to develop culturally, reaching its height in poetry, painting, music and dance.

Based on the progress made in silk reeling and dyeing techniques, the variety, quality and quantity of textile materials reached an unprecedented height.

The clothing materials in the Tang Dynasty were exquisite and the dresses of the upper class were mainly made of silk and famous for softness and lightness. The structure was natural, graceful and elegant, and adornments were splendid.

Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty


The most outstanding garments in this great period of prosperity were women's dresses, complimented by elaborate hairstyles, ornaments and face makeup.

The Tang women dressed in sets of garments, each set a unique image in itself. In general, the Tang women's dresses can be classified into three categories:

The traditional ruqunor double layered or padded short jacket that was typical of central China; the hufu, or alien dress that came from the Silk Road; as well as the full set of male garments that broke the tradition of the Confucian formalities.

Ruqunis made up of the top jacket and long gown and a skirt on the bottom. The Tang women inherited this traditional style and developed it further, opening up the collar as far as exposing the cleavage between the breasts. This was unheard of and unimaginable in the previous dynasties, in which women had to cover their entire body according to the Confucian classics. But the new style was soon embraced by the open-minded aristocratic women of the Tang Dynasty.

Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty

Part of a Painting Titled "Lady with a Flower in her Hair"

The Tang aesthetic was that of suppleness and opulence. In Tang paintings, women tried to show their suppleness by pleating their skirts in an accordion form, and raised the waist all the way up to under the armpits, so that the waistline was barrel shaped to show a full and rounded body contour.

Zhang Xuan and Zhou Fang, famous painters of the time, were particularly good at portraying opulent women in elaborate dresses. Zhou, in his painting Lady with a Flower in her Hair, portrayed a beauty with a gown lightly covering the breasts, revealing soft and supple shoulders under a silk cape.

Though the forms of woman’s garments were a continuation from the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220) and the Sui Dynasty (AD581-618), they were also influenced by cultures and arts of the Western Regions.

In the Tang Dynasty, the trades and cultural exchanges with Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Persia and other countries gradually became frequent, and they mutually dispatched emissaries and accepted students of other countries.

The Tang government was tolerant, and often appreciative of religions, art and culture from the outside world. Chang'an, the Tang capital, therefore became the center of exchange among different cultures. In this way, an open and romantic style of dress and personal adornments was formed.

Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty

"Painting of Lady of Guoguo on a Spring Outing"

   Previous Page 1 2 Next Page  

Key Words


Tea    Peking Opera


Cultural Heritage

Jade  Chinese  New Year

Imperial Palace

Chinese Painting