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Costume in the Tang Dynasty


The unified and prosperous China was established in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In China's history, the Tang Dynasty was a period when the polity and economy were highly developed and the culture and art were thriving.

Women's dress and personal adornments of the Tang Dynasty were outstanding in China's history. The clothing materials were exquisite, the structure was natural, graceful and elegant, and adornments were splendid. Though the forms of garments were still the continuation of the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) and the Sui Dynasty (581-618), they were influenced by cultures and arts of the Western Regions. Especially, the national power of the High Tang was strong. The trades and cultural exchanges with Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Persia and other countries gradually became frequent, and they mutually dispatched emissaries and accepted students of other countries. In this way, a special open and romantic style of dress and personal adornments was formed.

Because of communication with the Western Regions, the influence of dressing culture of other minorities on the Tang court also reflected the change of thoughts and concepts. Chinese women were seriously restricted by the old Confucian or feudal ethical code all through the ages. The social status of ancient women was very low: they often served asJileren(music performer),Guanji(official performer),Gongji(palace performer) andJiaji(family performer), and were regarded as the playthings and goods that can be sold and bought by rich people. Some females had rebel spirit in the Tang Dynasty, so they climbed or jumped over the walls and went to the nature to view the beautiful scenes and/or go sightseeing in the spring by riding horses with men. Just as recorded by many historical materials, some girls therefore dressed as boys in order to go out.

It was a fashion for women to wearHufu(garments of the Tartars or those who lived in the Western Regions). After the High Tang, the influences ofHufuwere gradually weakened and women's garments became broad and loose day by day. As to ordinary women's garments, the width of sleeve was always more than 1.3 meters.

After the reign of Tang Emperor Gaozong, purple was used as the garment color for officials above the third grade; light red, officials above the fifth grade; dark green, officials above the sixth grade; light green, officials above the seventh grade; dark cyan, officials above the eighth grade; light cyan, officials above the ninth grade; and yellow, ordinary people and those who did not live in the palace.         

The garments in the Tang Dynasty also greatly affected the garments of neighboring countries. For instance, Japanese kimono adopted the elites of the dresses of the Tang Dynasty in terms of colors, and theHanbok(traditional Korean clothing) also adopted the advantages of the dresses of the Tang Dynasty. The dresses of the Tang Dynasty were mainly made of silk, so dresses were famous for softness and lightness. The dresses of the Tang Dynasty boldly adopted the features of foreign garments in terms of forms and adornments; i.e. they mainly referred to the garments of other countries (such as the Central-Asia countries, India, Iran, Persia, northern countries and the Western Regions) and used them to improve the habilatory culture of the Tang Dynasty.

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