Tang Dynasty clothing refers to the clothing of the Tang Dynasty.
From the Sui Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), ancient Chinese clothing – Hanfu developed to its heyday. Due to political stability, economic development, advancement in production, progress of textile technology and frequent foreign diplomacy, the styles, colors and patterns of Tang Dynasty clothes had shown an unprecedented prosperous situation, especially the women’s clothing in this period can be described as the most exciting chapter in the history of Chinese custome.
The Feature of Tang Dynasty Clothing
Clothing is a barometer of social politics and economy. The Tang Dynasty was the heyday of Chinese feudal society, especially the Zhenguan and Kaiyuan Reign, politics was loose and people lived and worked in peace and contentment.
Chang’an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty, was the political, economic and cultural center at that time, as well as the center of cultural exchanges between the East and the West. There were more than 300 countries that had friendly contacts with the government of the Tang Dynasty. Then Chinese culture spread to all parts of the world through them. Up to now, some countries in East Asia still regard the dress of the Tang Dynasty as their formal dress, which shows the long influence of Tang Dynasty clothing. Foreign ambassadors gathered in Chang ‘an, but also spread their cultural seeds in the ancient China. The painting, sculpture, music, dance and other arts in this period absorbed the styles and characteristics from foreign cultures, which made the costume culture of the Tang Dynasty more colorful and dazzling. Note that the modern general sense of “Tang suit” is not referring to the Tang Dynasty clothing, but the clothing formed after Qing Dynasty.
As mentioned above, silk became the main fabric of Tang Dynasty clothing, and other fabrics such as cotton, linen, wool were also indispensable parts of it.
The Tang Dynasty clothing was colorful and there were many factors. First of all, the material foundation was laid in the Sui Dynasty. Although the Sui Dynasty ruled for a short time, the silk weaving industry had a great development. By the Tang Dynasty, the production area of silk was all over the country, and both the output and quality of silk were higher than those of the previous dynasties, thus providing a stable material foundation for the novelty and richness of Tang Dynasty clothes. In addition, the Tang Dynasty was friendly and diplomatic with other countries, and adopted a broad attitude towards the culture of various countries, which lead to the launch of numerous colorful Hanfu.
There was one exception, however, and that was yellow. Before the Tang Dynasty, people were free to wear yellow clothes. The Tang Dynasty believed that yellow was close to the color of the sun, and the sun was the symbol of the emperor’s dignity, so except for the emperor, officials and common people were not allowed to wear yellow clothes. Yellow has been the symbol of the emperor ever since.
Tang Dynasty costumes are full of variety, with countless totems of mythical beasts and animals, as well as exquisite embroidery of flowers and trees. The traditional dragon and phoenix patterns were not rejected. At this time, the design of costume patterns tends to express the artistic style of freedom, plump and fat.
Patterns in the late Tang Dynasty were more delicate and beautiful. On this basis, the Chinese traditional dress and patterns reached the peak in history, which has continued to the influence of the later generations.
The Tang Dynasty unified the chaotic and divided states of the Sui Dynasty, and established a prosperous country. Especially when the Tang Dynasty became the center of economy and culture among Asian ethnic groups, it absorbed the characteristic of India and Iran and integrated them into Chinese culture, which was fully reflected in murals, stone carvings, sculptures, books, paintings, silk embroidery, pottery figurines and costumes.
Tang Dynasty Clothing of Royal Palace
Li Yuan (618-636 AD), the founder of the Tang Dynasty, promulgated a new law called “Wude Law” in 624 AD, which included the law of clothing and stipulated 14 types of emperor’s clothing, 3 types of queens’ clothing, 6types of prince’s clothing, 22 types of officeholder’s clothing and so on.
Tang Dynasty clothes of the emperor
According to the wearing occasions, the clothing of the emperor of the Tang Dynasty can be divided into formal dresses and ordinary clothes.
Daqiumian was the highest standard and most solemn garment among the emperor’s clothing. It was only wore when the emperor worshiped the gods of the sun and moon. But Daqiumian was soon abandoned and replaced by the gorgeous Gunmian because it was not very practical, and the emperor of the Tang Dynasty seldom wore it.
Gunmian ranked second in the emperor’s formal dresses. The emperor Li Zhi listened to Changsun Wuji’s suggestion to abolish Daqiumian and wear Gunmian instead. Since then, the emperor wore Gunmian when worshiping the gods of the sun and moon.
Ordinary clothing was the costume that most often wore by the emperor of the Tang Dynasty. Ordinary clothing refers to a round-necked robe with narrow-sleeves, which is very homely and commoner. Ordinary clothing could be wore from the emperor to the ordinary people, but the red-yellow robe could only be wore by the emperor. Note that other colors of yellow such as khaki and light yellow were still allowed to be used by ordinary civilian.
Since Zhenguan period, except for the first day of the new year and the winter solstice, all other occasions that the emperor only wore ordinary clothes.
Tang Dynasty clothes of the queen
The three costumes of queen’s clothing were Huiyi, Juyi, and Tanyi.
Tang Dynasty clothes of government official
The clothing of official in the Tang Dynasty could be roughly divided into two types, the formal clothing was for worship and major political activities, the ordinary clothing was for relatively ordinary work and social activities.
The formal clothing was basically the same with the Sui Dynasty, but it was more gorgeous and beautiful.
The ordinary clothes of the Tang Dynasty inherited the traditional form of Shenyi. Welts were added to the collar, cuffs, and the edges of the hem. The front and back of the clothes were cut directly. The waist was tightly tied with a leather belt, and the sleeves are divided into two types: straight sleeves and wide sleeves. The narrow, straight sleeves are called “Gouyi“, and is convenient for activities. The wide-sleeves clothes can express chic and luxurious demeanor, they were called round-necked robe, which could be wore from the emperor to the servants.
Ordinary men’s costumes inherited the traditional features of cross-collar, but new styles were appeared. One is the Putou, and the other is a round-neck robe with narrow sleeves.
Putou, also called the Futou, was the fashion in this period. It was formed on the basis of the scarfs of Han and Wei Dynasty. After the Tang Dynasty, people added a fixed ornament to the inside of the Putou, and they called it “Jinzi“. The shape of the Jinzi varies from period to period.
The round-neck robe with narrow sleeves was the main clothing for ordinary men in dairy life. Judging from the pictures circulated in ancient times, this kind of round-neck robe was a fashion in informal occasions. However, it was not the general clothing of the people in the field.
The farmer in the picture was wearing a hat, a short coat with Banbi, and an apron around his waist. Under the feudal system of the Tang Dynasty, the life of farmers was still very poor. Because of poverty, even linen clothing was hard to come by, so they usually wore linen clothing which was short, compact but easy to work in the field.
Banbi. The rise of the Banbi was quite interesting. In the Three Kingdoms Period, The emperor wore a half-sleeves shirt(called Banbi) to court, but was questioned by a minister, why did he wear such a strange costume? It can be seen that the Banbi was not accepted by the society when it first appeared. But with the development of the society, it was popular in the heyday of Sui and Tang Dynasties. Wearing Banbi became a fashion, not only men but also women could wear them.
Ruqun was popular among ladies. The skirt was tied high above the waistline, or even above the chest line, and they called it Qixiong ququn. Wearing Qixiong ruqun could make women elegant no matter the figure was plump or thin, so it became the ordinary clothing for women especially in the circles where plumpness was popular.
Speaking of the representative of women’s clothing in the Tang Dynasty, big-sleeves robe must be one of them. It is wider than the usual wide-sleeved outerwear, it can be wore or tied outside the ordinary coat, and the it looks so elegant.
It is said that the emperor didn’t allow people to wear Hu clothing with narrow sleeves all over the country, so the princesses were ordered to wear Han clothings that can represent the Han nationality. So this kind of Tang dynasty clothing with big sleeve became popular in this period.
A woman disguised as a man was also a major feature of the Tang Dynasty, which is a rare phenomenon in China’s long-term feudal society. The cultural integration and economic development made it possible without a doubt.
Banbi. Banbi was quite popular in the early Tang Dynasty, both men and women could wear them, Banbi also became a part of court uniforms. Banbi is a short-sleeved blouse with no button, which is tied on the chest with a belt on the placket. The collar of the Banbi is wide, and almost all the chest can be exposed. The function of the Banbi is equivalent to the function of today’s coat.
Hairstyle of women
There were many types of hairstyle for women. Women in Tang Dynasty always combed their hair into a bun, and then put the bun on the top of the head or tied behind the head. In the early Tang Dynasty, the hair buns were simple and flat, after the late Tang Dynasty, the high buns became popular, and the bun styles were numerous. It generally takes more than three hours for a woman to make a great hairstyle. Here are some famous hairstyles such Jinghuji, Lingyunji, Paojiaji, Shuangdaoji, Yuanbaoji, Fenxiaoji, Woduoji and Yuanji.
Tang Dynasty Hairstyles of Women
Hair accessories of women
Hair accessories included Zan, Chai, Buyao, etc. They were mostly made of jade, gold, silver, and other materials with exquisite craftsmanship.
Zan and Chai were often inserted into hair horizontally or oblique in pairs. Buyao was one of the finest hair accessory, it was made into a bird-like shape with a string of bead. Buyao will shake when the women walk slowly, which makes you more charming than before. After late Tang Dynasty, they were decorated with delicate and beautiful flower on their hair too.
Hat of women
It was because women’s hairstyle was hard to make that they often wore hats when they went out. In the early Tang Dynasty, women had the custom of not allowing outsiders to see their faces, so they often wore Mi when they went out. The Mi was a large square scarf, usually made of light and transparent leno, which could cover the whole body when wearing it. In the reign of emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, women changed to wearing a Weimao in accordance with the openness of the society. In the heyday of the Tang Dynasty, women just went out without hats. However, if they wanted to travel long distances, they still wore a hood to avoid wind and dust.
Makeup of women
There were many methods for facial makeup, such as applying aluminum powder, applying rouge, drawing eyebrows, appliques, and dimple makeup. Thick eyebrow was the main eyebrow style, which was generally drawn longer in the early Tang Dynasty, and short eyebrow style became popular after the Tang Dynasty. Applique was a forehead ornament that was made into various flower shapes by gold foil, fish bone and other materials. Dimple makeup was another kind of fashionable style for women, which was dyed with rouge on the dimples or pasted with gold foil like eyebrows makeup.
Women in the Tang Dynasty wore shoes, boots, clogs and so on. The shoes were made of silk, brocade and linen. Embroidery was often added to the body of the shoes. The boots were mostly made of brocade with exquisite weaving craftsmanship and beautiful patterns. Clogs were wore barefoot in summer, and folk women especially liked to wear them.
Influence of Tang Dynasty Clothing
Tang Dynasty clothing not only has a profound impact on Chinese clothing culture, but also has a great impact on neighboring countries. For example, Japanese kimono has absorbed the essence of Tang Dynasty clothing in terms of color and style, and Korean clothing also inherited the advantages of the forms of Hanfu.
Until now, some countries in Asia, such as Japan and North Korea, still retain the traditional Chinese clothing system. Therefore, it is expected that Hanfu will more and more popular all over the world in the feature without a doubt.