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The Elegant Tang Dynasty Attire

Tang dynasty attire is a typical representation of traditional Chinese culture. Today, the Tang dress is still being worn at many ceremonial events and national holidays.

The costumes of ancient China were emblems of Chinese tradition, as well as essential elements in the history and culture of each dynasty. Costume maintained an important place in Chinese culture for more than 3,000 years. The culture of China is ancient and well established, brilliant and resplendent. The costumes are likewise magnificent and colorful. There were many dynasties throughout China’s history, each having its own unique style of dress. And each style would change or disappear as its dynasty changed, declined, or was replaced.

With the advent of each new dynasty and the progression of time, costumes were revolutionized. The style was classical and conservative in the Qin and Han dynasties, luxurious and glamorous in the Tang dynasty, delicate and exquisite in the Song dynasty, graceful and magnificent in the Ming dynasty, and very intricate in the Qing dynasty.

The Tang dynasty was the most thriving, prosperous, splendid, and glorious period of ancient Chinese culture and art. For nearly 300 years—from the early period, through the thriving and prosperous period and into the later period of the Tang dynasty—the clothing, especially the women’s dresses, had novel and unique styles, were made of colorful cloth, and were adorned with elegant ornaments. The costumes of the Tang dynasty are like exotic flowers in Chinese history. The quality of the material was particularly fine and delicate, and the decorations lustrous.

In the Tang dynasty, men’s daily wear basically consisted of a round-neck robe. Besides regulations regarding the color, animal images—such as a lion, Chinese unicorn, tiger, jackal, hawk, wild goose, and so on—were specially conferred upon civilian and military officials by authority, to be embroidered on their robes, which were called "embroidered robes."

In the Tang dynasty, there was "the rule of the wide belt." This convention dictated that the quality and quantity of decorations on the belt be used to indicate the rank of government officials. For example, officials lower than the first rank wore a sword or knife, officials and generals higher than the third rank wore jade belts, officials of the fourth and fifth rank wore gold belts, and the sixth- and seventh-ranking officials wore silver belts. In comparison, ordinary people could only wear a small bronze or iron knife.

The style of women’s clothing during the Tang dynasty is the most outstanding in China’s history. The attire was characteristically distinctive and natural, displaying the beauty, grace, and freedom of people from heaven. Hair was styled to cover the temples and frame the face, and gowns were low-cut with a high waistband.{mospagebreak}

Women’s outfits consisted of a short-sleeved shirt and a long skirt; or a loose-sleeved shirt, long skirt, and a shawl. Also worn were a short jacket-shirt with half-length sleeves and a long skirt, with a shawl. After the prosperous Tang dynasty, sleeves became looser and larger. Shoes during the Tang period were either made of silk and decorated with a phoenix or woven from grass. Hair was coiled high in a bun, with such names as "gazing-gods bun," "cloud bun," "double handing-down bun," and so on. In order for a woman to wear a bamboo hat, the hair was coiled into a "flower bun."

Tang dynasty fashion has become a type of ceremonial dress commonly accepted by Chinese people and a type of national costume surely to be worn at festivals and traditional holidays. Tang-style dress has become a symbol of China’s long tradition and culture, and the high art of costume.