This week, we take a look into a subject I have been avoiding Han dynasty-inspired clothing and clothes pre-dating the Tang dynasty. Therefore, for those of you who have been keeping track, we will be making a loop around in the timeline… and just in time since this period kind of correlates with Qin’s Moon and The Legend of Miyue‘s rough time period.
More pictures and information below the cut.
As I may or may not have mentioned before, it is important to keep in mind that (1) these pictures are not exhaustive and some “looks” and styles may persist for periods before and after the general time we attribute them to and other looks evolve as well. One example is the ruqun being claimed by some to be the oldest form of hanfu although the styles and popularity of it varies greatly with the era. Also, (2) the farther we move back in the timeline, the more things tend to come under scholarly debate and are up to archaeological evidence to finally solve. (3) When you get into times where China is more fragmented into multiple dynasties and kingdoms, the clothing style issue tends to become harder to differentiate, aka. the Spring and Autumn period, Warring States period, Three Kingdoms, Northern and Southern Dynasties, Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, etc. Here is a rough video map of the world as it progresses through history to show how messy things can be.
Case in point, even when there are large dynasties existing, history is never clean there may also be smaller “fringe kingdoms” that exist for short periods, one example being the Kingdom of Tungning and various other regimes that have existed throughout time in China and extending into what is now Mongolia, Central Asia, and the Russian Far East and even some in Southeast Asia. That being said, these pictures can only serve as a VERY general guide. Also, I have not studied this subject in any professional manner so input from better-informed individuals is always welcome to supplement everybody’s knowledge.
There are a number of reasons I have been avoiding this segment in the timeline (aside from lack of professional study) due to some gaps in our current understanding, debates, etc. Also, I have heard that this was a segment in history where Chinese clothing had a jump in evolution and became more secure to wear with improvements in undergarments as you will see in our next post. Sadly, possibly due to a combination of all these issues (and I suspect largely due to the gap in clothing security) it tends to not be that popular and there are less high quality pictures of clothing and attempts at reproductions… though I will acknowledge that some individuals who venture into this period to surprise me with some of the good creativity they put into the clothing… but we will start with the more “accurate and in line with archaeology” stuff first.
That being said, a majority of the pictures for these posts will come from Clothing and Happiness 裝束與樂舞 who I admire and find mind-boggling in that they are able to distinguish clothing and makeup styles in detail like the approximate dates during each of the dynasties. Do not expect me to be able to do this. It would probably make period dramas utterly un-enjoyable for me as then, not only would I be able to gripe about how the general look is off but also how they wouldn’t have used such and such a type of cloth or make-up style then due to the fad of the times. That being said, some pictures still come from Mr. Chen’s Chinese Photo Studio 陳先生的復古照相館 and the blog Perfect Costume 天衣無縫, which features a how to guide on wearing quju (曲裾), the predominant and more popular clothing style of the Han dynasty, and more details than I could care to cover at the moment. XP
Each of the pictures for the next few posts will be labeled with the source, general time period they are attributed to and possibly some more details. I will try to keep them in order. Most of the pictures are from the Warring States period and time before the Han dynasty as well as the earlier Western Han Dynasty.
The following are some links that may help you get some background information. Please let us know in the comment section if there are any other sites you may be able to recommend for more pictures.