The Tang Dynasty hanfu includes components like Shenyi, Pao, Ru, Shan, and Ku.
Primary Components of Tang Dynasty Hanfu
Shenyi (深衣): A One-piece Robe
Shenyi, often recognized as the representative attire of ancient China, is a one-piece robe that combines both the upper garment and the lower skirt.
Fabric and Design
Typically crafted from silk, the robe boasts intricate embroidery and a wrap-around style, with the left side covering the right. The harmonious combination of colors and patterns emphasizes elegance and stateliness.
Pao (袍): Closed Robe
The Pao is a closed robe, often extending to the ankles. It became a staple for both men and women during the Tang Dynasty, and its popularity continued into later periods.
Variations and Uses
There were various types of Pao, some designed for daily wear, while others were reserved for special occasions. Notably, the Pao was often paired with a sash or belt at the waist.
Ru (襦): Open Cross-collared Shirt
The Ru is an open cross-collared shirt, typically worn as an inner layer beneath other garments. Its design showcases the aesthetics of the Tang Dynasty, reflecting the integration of diverse cultures.
Styles and Decorations
Available in both long and short-sleeved versions, the Ru is often adorned with patterns representing natural elements, such as flowers and birds.
Shan (衫): Open Parallel-collared Shirt
Similar to the Ru but with a parallel collar, the Shan was a versatile piece in the Tang Dynasty wardrobe.
Materials and Adaptability
Primarily made from lightweight materials like silk, the Shan could be easily adapted for different seasons and occasions. Its breathability made it a favorite during the warmer months.
Ku (裤): Trousers
The Ku, or trousers, were an essential part of the Tang Dynasty attire, especially for men. Their functionality was emphasized, but that didn’t mean they lacked in style.
Design and Fit
With a loose fit, these trousers were designed for comfort and ease of movement. They often featured drawstrings at the waist and were paired with both formal and casual upper garments.
Outerwear and Overcoats of the Tang Dynasty
Daopao (道袍): Taoist Robe
The Daopao, predominantly associated with Taoist priests, was not just a garment but a representation of spirituality and philosophy.
Significance and Symbolism
Every aspect of the Daopao, from its colors to the patterns, had spiritual significance.
Materials and Craftsmanship
Silk was the predominant material used for crafting the Daopao, often dyed in deep blue or black. The intricate embroidery on the robe, usually done in gold or silver threads, showcased the exemplary craftsmanship of Tang Dynasty artisans.
Wushamao (乌纱帽): Official’s Hat
The Wushamao was more than just a hat; it was a symbol of authority and rank in the officialdom of the Tang Dynasty. Each design detail indicated the wearer’s position within the bureaucratic hierarchy.
Design and Hierarchy
The Wushamao featured wing-like flaps on its sides and was commonly black. Decorations like peacock feathers or gemstone finials could be added to the hat, representing the official’s rank.
Beyond just a fashion accessory, the Wushamao was a clear indicator of social standing. It not only represented the wearer’s official rank but also served as a visual cue for the common people, signifying the presence of authority.
Bijia (比甲): Sleeveless Vest
The Bijia was a versatile sleeveless vest that added an extra layer of warmth and style. It was a prevalent attire piece, embraced by both commoners and the elite.
Functionality and Fashion
Though its primary function was to provide warmth, the Bijia was also a statement piece. Crafted from various materials, from simple cotton for daily wear to ornate silk with embroidery for festive occasions, the vest catered to different societal needs.
Layering and Pairing
The vest’s open design allowed the underlying garments to peek through, contributing to the layered aesthetics of Tang Dynasty fashion.
Footwear and Accessories of the Tang Dynasty
Lu (鹿): Deer Leather Shoes
Lu, crafted from the supple leather of deer, were a luxury item in the Tang Dynasty. Their soft texture ensured comfort, while their distinctive appearance signified the wearer’s elevated status.
Design and Craftsmanship
Embracing a minimalist yet elegant design, the Lu often displayed the natural grain of deer leather, which was considered a symbol of authenticity. Sometimes, artisans would incorporate subtle embroidery to enhance their aesthetics.
Occasions and Pairings
Primarily worn by the upper echelons of society, Lu were considered appropriate for both formal gatherings and daily wear. They complemented the intricate designs of Tang Dynasty garments, adding a touch of understated luxury.
Xue (靴): Boots
Boots, or Xue, were essential footwear, especially for those who traveled or engaged in horseback riding. They provided protection and durability.
Materials and Styles
Crafted from a variety of materials, including leather and felt, the Xue were designed to endure rugged terrains. Higher boots, designed for horseback riding, ensured protection against the elements, while shorter versions were suitable for daily activities.
While functional, Xue also carried social connotations. For instance, the use of certain materials or designs could indicate the wearer’s profession or rank, such as those worn by military officials.
Wa (襪): Socks
Socks, or Wa, were more than just a necessity. In the Tang Dynasty, they were an accessory that showcased the wearer’s taste and attention to detail.
Variety and Patterns
Available in various lengths, from ankle to knee-high, the Wa often featured intricate patterns. Bright colors, stripes, and even nature-inspired motifs were common, highlighting the artistic flair of the era.
Materials and Comfort
Predominantly made from silk or cotton, the Wa provided warmth and comfort. Their soft texture ensured that they could be comfortably worn with any footwear, from Lu to Xue.
Dais (带): Belts and Sashes
Dais, encompassing both belts and sashes, were functional accessories that also served as fashion statements.
Design and Usage
While belts were often crafted from leather and adorned with metal buckles, sashes, made from silk, showcased the vibrant colors and patterns of Tang fashion.
Symbolism and Significance
Beyond their functional role, Dais also had cultural and symbolic significance. The choice of material, color, and design could convey messages about the wearer’s status, profession, or even personal beliefs.
Decorative Elements and Patterns of the Tang Dynasty
Embroidery, a cherished art form, played a significant role in enhancing the beauty of Tang Dynasty clothing. The meticulous stitches showcased the dedication and skill of the artisans.
Techniques and Stitches
Several distinct embroidery stitches were used, such as the satin stitch and chain stitch. The Kesi technique, a tapestry weave method, was also prevalent, resulting in intricate, detailed patterns without a single break in the thread.
Silk threads, often dyed in vibrant colors, were the primary choice for embroidery.
Common Motifs and Symbols
Flora and Fauna
Motifs inspired by nature, such as peonies, chrysanthemums, and cranes, were common. These not only added aesthetic value but were also symbolic of virtues like longevity, prosperity, and purity.
Celestial and Mythical Themes
Dragons, phoenixes, and other mythical creatures often graced Tang garments, symbolizing power, divinity, and the cosmic balance. Celestial symbols, like stars and clouds, alluded to the heavenly connection and divine favor.
Colors and Their Significance
Symbolism of Major Colors
- Red: Representing joy, prosperity, and good fortune, red was a favorite for celebratory occasions like weddings.
- Green: Often associated with growth and harmony, green symbolized a connection with nature.
- Blue: This color represented purity, tranquility, and the vastness of the sky.
- Yellow: Reserved mainly for the royalty, yellow was a symbol of power, authority, and the imperial lineage.
Usage and Combinations
While single-colored garments were common, combinations, like red and green or blue and gold, were also prevalent. These combinations were not arbitrary but were carefully chosen to convey specific messages or sentiments.
Influence of Tang Dynasty Hanfu on Later Dynasties
Legacy in Ming and Qing Dynasties
The Tang Dynasty’s fashion influence reverberated throughout subsequent eras, notably during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, molding the sartorial choices of these periods.
Adoption and Adaptation in the Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty saw a resurgence of Han ethnic pride, leading to a revival of many Tang Dynasty fashion elements. While retaining the core aesthetics, the Ming designers introduced their unique flair. The Ming-style robes, for instance, were influenced by the Tang’s flowing silhouettes but incorporated the Ming’s characteristic patterns and designs.
Incorporation in the Qing Dynasty
While the Qing Dynasty, led by the Manchu people, brought in its distinct styles like the Qipao, the essence of the Tang Dynasty wasn’t entirely eclipsed. Many elements, particularly the intricate embroidery techniques and symbolic motifs from the Tang era, were interwoven into Qing garments, showcasing a harmonious blend of cultures.
Contemporary Revival and Appreciation
Modern times have witnessed a resurgence of interest in traditional Chinese attire, especially the Tang Dynasty’s Hanfu, symbolizing both a connection to the past and a form of cultural expression.
Modern Hanfu Movement
Today’s Hanfu enthusiasts, driven by a desire to reconnect with their roots, are reviving Tang Dynasty styles with a modern twist. Events, forums, and Hanfu communities are burgeoning, fostering an environment for enthusiasts to share, learn, and celebrate the beauty of Hanfu.
Influence on Global Fashion
The timeless beauty of Tang Dynasty Hanfu transcends borders. International designers often draw inspiration from Tang aesthetics, integrating them into global fashion trends. This confluence underscores the universality of fashion and the enduring legacy of Tang Dynasty elegance.