Chinese Tunic Suit
The tunic suit has dominated Chinese fashion for many years and is known to Westerners as the ¡°Mao tunic¡± or ¡°Mao suit¡±. It is mistake, however, to associate the style with Mao Zedong.
For it is called by the Chinese themselves ¡°Zhongshan Zhuang¡± or ¡°Zhongshan suit¡± as it was a uniform that Dr. Sun Yat-sun (better known among the Chinese as Sun Zhongshan) liked to wear and recommended to the people of the country.
It was customary in ancient times to change the styles of the people's clothes whenever a new dynasty replaced an old one. The 1911 Revolution led by Dr. Sun Yet-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty and founded the Republic of China. Members of his Nationalist Party proposed to change the national costume. During the discussions, Dr Sun favoured the casual dress prevalent in Guangdong Province but proposed certain modifications. A designer worked on his ideas and produced the tunic with four pockets and a turned-down color, closed all down the middle with five buttons. It looked simple and tasteful and gave an air of sedateness. From then on Dr. Sun set a personal example by wearing the tunic suit on various occasions. It did not take long before the style became fashionable all over the country.
The cheongsam is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features and enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion.
The name ¡°cheongsam¡±, meaning simply ¡°long dress¡±, entered the English vocabulary from the dialect of China 's Guangdong Province (Cantonese). In other parts of the country including Beijing , however, it is known as ¡°qipao¡±, which has a history behind it.
When the early Manchu rulers came to China proper, they organized certain people, mainly Manchus, into ¡°banners¡± and called them ¡°banner people¡± (qiren), which then became loosely the name of all Manchus. The Manchu woman wore normally a one-piece dress which likewise, came to be called ¡°qipao¡± or ¡°banner dress¡±. Although the 1911 Revolution toppled the rule of the Qing Dynasty, the female dress survived the political change and, with later improvements, has become the traditional dress for Chinese women.
Easy t slip on and comfortable to wear, the cheongsam fits well the female Chinese figure. Its neck is high, collar closed, and its sleeves may be either short, medium or full-length, depending on season and taste. The dress is buttoned on the right side, with a loose chest, a fitting waist, and slits up from the sides, all of which combine to set off the beauty of the female shape.
The cheongsam is not too complicated to make. Nor does it call fro too much material, for there are no accessories like belts, scarves, sashes or frills to go with it.
Another beauty of the cheongsam is that, made of different materials and to varying lengths they can be worn either on casual or formal occasions. In either case, it creates an impression of simple and quiet charm, elegance and neatness. No wonder it is so much liked by women not only of China but of foreign countries as well.
The role embroidered with dragon patterns was made for the exclusive use of an emperor during the Qing Dynasty. The ritual of embroidering dragon patterns on the emperor's robe, however, dates back to as early as the Zhou Dynasty (11 th century¡ª256 B.C.). During the Yuan and Ming, the emperors were already wearing robes graced with dragon patterns, but is was not until the Qing that they were named ¡°dragon robes¡± and became part of the official attire system. A dragon robe is either yellow or apricot-yellow in color, and embroidered with nine yellow dragons and five ¨Chued auspicious could pattern. The clouds are interlaced with twelve other patterns¡ªthe sun, the moon and stars (representing the light of the throne), mountains (synonymous to stability), dragon (symbolizing adaptability to changes) auspicious bird (denoting elegance and beauty) water reeds (which represent purity and cleanness), and fire (meaning light). According to imperial Qing rituals, the emperor's dragon robe was a kind of auspicious attire for lower-grade celebrations and ceremonies¡ªit was by no means the highest grade of imperial attire. The dragon robe that was passed down from one emperor to another is embroidered with a dragon on the front and the back, before or behind the knees, on the shoulders, and on the lining of the hest. Thus a total of nine dragons are embroidered on a dragon robe. Observed from the front or behind it, five dragons could be seen at a glance, because in Chinese tradition the figures nine and five tallied with the dignity of the throne.
Miao-Style Silver Jewellery
When a girl was born in a Miao family, her parents make it a point to save on food and expenses for a complete set of silver jewellery for her. The set, 15kg in total weight, includes crown, horns, earrings, neckband, chest plaque, clothing ornament, waistband, and bracelets. It takes more than one hour for a young woman to put the entire kit on and finish her makeup. The Miao people's penchant for silver jewelllery stems from their love of beauty, wealth and dignity. The color of silver symbolizes the Miao people's character of fearing no tyranny and being impervious to temptation of wealth and position. It is also said that wearing silver jewellery helps keep evil at bay. Silver jewellery can also be used as a symbol of a person's martial status or as a betrothal gift.