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Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty

Updated: 2011-03-10 15:53
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What is worth special mention is that women in Tang were allowed to wear dresses absorbing elements from other cultures. It was a fashion for them to wearhufu (garments of the Tartars or those who lived in the Western Regions). After the High Tang, the influences of hufu were gradually weakened and women's garments became broad and loose day by day. As to ordinary women's garments, the width of sleeve was always more than 1.3 meters.

Because of communication with the Western Regions, the influence of dressing culture of other minorities on the Tang court also reflected the change of thoughts and concepts.

Chinese women were seriously restricted by the old Confucian or feudal ethical code all through the ages. The social status of ancient women was very low: they often served as Jileren (music performer), Guanji (official performer), Gongji (palace performer) and Jiaji (family performer), and were regarded as the playthings and goods that can be sold and bought by rich people.

Some females had a rebel spirit in the Tang Dynasty, so they climbed or jumped over the walls and went to nature to view beautiful scenes and/or go sightseeing in the spring by riding horses with men. Just as recorded by  historical materials and paintings such as "Painting of Lady of Guoguo on a Spring Outing" by Zhang Xuan, some girls therefore dressed in men's riding garments in order to go out.

Woman's costume in the Tang Dynasty

Besides the normal materials people in Tang Dynasty made their clothing from, there were some other special means for making clothes.

Princess Anle (a Princess of Tang, the youngest daughter of Emperor Zhongzong) had the bright idea of wearing a skirt made entirely from feathers and she ordered the imperial workshops to prepare one for her.

The result, apparently, was spectacular and the skirt glowed with different colors by day and night and depending on whether the viewer was favored with the front or the rear view of the princess.

The fashion spread rapidly and hunters descended in hordes upon the birds of China - so much so, in fact, that the numbers of birds declined disastrously, causing the Divine Emperor to have the original skirt ritually burned as a way of putting an end to the craze.

As an important cultural element, woman’s costume in various forms in the Tang Dynasty well illustrates the open-mindedness and affluence during that period.

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