Chinese Fashion Designs Part V

June 10, 2010

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During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when the Manchu ruled China the organization of political power mainly consisted of the rulers of the Manchu ethnic minority.

Certain social strata emerged, so the customs fashion of Manchu bannermen affected those of the Central Plains, and the qipao, a one-piece dress Manchu women typically wore, along with Changshan, the male equivalent of the women's qipao (cheongsam) were introduced to China. It might be said that this innovation, although violently imposed, was another improvement of China's traditional dress code fashions. This code that had been handed down for several thousand years was damaged because of the invasion of the Eight Banners soldiers. Under the dynastic laws of Qing Dynasty, all Han Chinese were forced to wear a queue and dress in Manchurian qipao instead of traditional Han Chinese clothing and fashion designs, under penalty of death. It was the third obvious revolution after the Mongol Costumes for Arrow Shooting on Horseback and the Open Dresses of the Tang Dynasty in the history. This "revolution" left no option; the Manchus ordered that all Chinese should adopt the changshan style fashion of dress -or face execution.

In addition to this there was strict stipulation governing women's dressing and fashion designs. They included court, ceremonial and casual costumes. There had to be specific dresses for women from the queen to wives or mothers of the seven-rank officials, as well as ceremonial costume referred to auspicious dresses and mourning apparels. Women's dress for wedding, funeral and birthday were prescribed according to their ranks, daily costume and the dressing styles fashions were also bound by laws.

The rules were so class-differentiated that, as an example, it was detailed and strictly stipulated that servants, actors and laborers were forbidden to wear clothes made of high-grade materials. No thin or damask silk, no fine wool, no fine furs were permitted to them to get dressed with. Besides that they weren't allowed to freely use jewels of gold, silver, pearl, jade, precious stones or adornments made of other valuable materials.

After these authoritarians beginnings, since Qizhuang (costumes of bannermen) were convenient for dressing and cost fewer materials, they replaced the complicated ancient blouses and skirts. This was the main reason that later generations easily accepted the dressing style fashion of Qizhuang. Thus, the traditional Chinese Hanfu style of clothing and lovely fashion designs were gradually replaced, but never forgotten.

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