Centuries-old furniture withstands the test of time

Furniture made during China’s Ming dynasty from the 14th to 17th centuries achieved a pinnacle in the art of furniture making. It is also a favorite among antique collectors. Now, an exhibition at 798 Art Zone in Beijing is displaying some rare pieces of Ming dynasty furniture. The exhibition will run through October 7.

An exhibition at 798 art zone in Beijing is displaying some rare pieces of Ming dynasty furniture.
 Ming furniture

The exhibition is held by Jia Mu Tang, literally meaning “house of fine wood”, a company specializing in collecting Chinese antiques. Twenty eight geniune Ming dynasty furniture pieces collected by the company are on display, along with playthings owned by the late well-known antique collector Wang Shixiang. The furniture includes chairs, benches, tables, beds and wardrobes.

Wang Shixiang (1914-2009), hailed as the “father of classical Chinese furniture”, defined Ming furniture as pieces fashioned from valuable hardwood during the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The exhibition places the furniture in seven modern rooms, including a sitting room, dining room and the memorial room of Wang Shixiang. Although created hundreds of years ago, these pieces provide a modern feel. And in the room dedicated to Wang Shixiang’s collections and essays, visitors can feel the profound knowledge of the late collector. Seven bronze furnaces manifest the epitome of his hobby.

Pieces of Ming furniture are exhibited at a space decorated as a sitting room.
 Ming furniture

“The antique and the modern complement each other,” says Qiao Hao, a Ming furniture expert and head of Guardian’s furniture and artwork department. “Every furnace has its own style, and can be called one of a kind in terms of collecting.”

“The study of Ming furniture is relatively new. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Wang published China’s first book on it.” Qiao said.

Wang’s books include Ming Dynasty Furniture Appreciation and Classic Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties. They’re recognized as rediscoveries of antique furniture in China.

In modern times, Westerners began collecting and researching Ming furniture before the Chinese.

Foreign scholars and diplomats began collecting them in the 1930s. In 1944, German scholar Gustav Ecke published Chinese Domestic Furniture, the first book in any language on Ming furniture.

Although created hundreds of years ago, these pieces deliver a modern feel.
 Ming furniture

“It’s miraculous that artisans centuries ago could produce furniture that fits modern life,” Qiao says.

The furniture includes chairs, benches, tables, beds and wardrobes.
 Ming furniture

“It proves Ming furniture can withstand the test of time and transcend distinctions between Eastern and Western aesthetics.”

28 real Ming dynasty furniture pieces collected by the company are on display here.
 Ming furniture

Qiao explains the show aims to preserve and disseminate the furniture’s cultural components while honoring Wang’s efforts to do so.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Dongyang Wood Carving

Dongyang, a city in the middle of Zhejiang Province near Shanghai, is famous for its woodcarving. It is one of the major centers of woodcarving production from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties to the present day. Woodcarving in Dongyang has a long history and was named after its place of origin, Dongyang.

History

Dongyang woodcarving had already developed to a certain level by the Tang Dynasty(618-907), but was most prosperous in the last two feudal dynasties — the Ming(1368-1644)and the Qing(1644-1911).

The magnificent woodcarvings can be found in the imperial palaces in Beijing, Suzhou City, Hangzhou City and Anhui Province. During the reign of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong(1711-1799), over 400 craftsmen came to the capital of Beijing to decorate the palaces and carve the lanterns. Those woodcarving articles are still kept in Gugong, the Imperial Palace in Beijing.

 Dongyang wood carving

After 1910, many carvers from Dongyong gathered in Shanghai and Hangzhou to produce export-oriented furniture and utensils combining Chinese and Western styles. Since the founding of the PRC, highly artistic frescoes and screens appeared on the market with the rapid development of technology. These works, focusing on historical stories and folk legends were designed using the ‘full carving’ technique, which formed a unique artistic style.

 Dongyang wood carving

In 1957, a 19-meter high wooden statue of Sakyamuni Buddha was sculpted for the main hall of Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou. In 1983, Dongyang City was named “the hometown of Chinese woodcarving” by the state council.

Features

The artistic forms of Dongyang woodcarving with distinct gradations and superb carving technology are unique in the handicraft and art fields.

 Dongyang wood carving

Dongyang woodcarving, also called “white woodcarving” (white is the natural color of the wood) is second to none in terms of Chinese crafts. In terms of techniques, Dongyang woodcarving features a high relief, multi-layers, and a rich composition of pictures, presenting a third dimension, full yet in neat order.

Dongyang woodcarving emphasizes relief skill; uses the traditional experience of a discreet, bird’s-eye perspective of the structure; stresses round composition; considers dispersion and multiplicity without looseness or disorder. Moreover, it has other features such as distinct gradations, obvious subjects and expressive plots which often help to tell a larger story.

 Dongyang wood carving

Dongyang woodcarving is mainly used to decorate houses and furniture with mainly realistic depictions of galloping horses, cranes, lotus flowers and human figures.

Nowadays, the assortment of Dongyang woodcarving products amount to more than 2,700 varieties, most of which — covering ninety percent of total output value — are daily wares such as cases, cabinets, stools, desks and tables. They are exported to over 50 countries and regions, while involving thousands of craftsmen in that industry.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Modern Asian Home Bedroom Design Ideas

The home concept of Asian-themed design is one of the most unique concepts of home designs to be applied in your home. You can apply this concept into one of the most important parts of the house, the bedroom. The Asian style will make the bedroom doesn’t only look beautiful, but also gives a unique characteristic into the nuance of the bedroom in order to make you feel more comfortable being in it.

 Asian home decor

To apply the Oriental concept into the bedroom, you can first choose the coloring options for the bedroom. Mix and match the colors that are typical Oriental style. For example, the Chinese color theme is usually dominated by red. Well, you can design your bedroom by integrating red as the dominant color, the rest, you can use one to two colors applied into the bedroom decorative ornaments as the accentuation. For the Chinese, red means the color that symbolizes happiness and prosperity. Therefore, The Chinese interior design is identical by the application of the red color.

To anticipate that the red wouldn’t give the impression of heat that makes you sleepless at nights, it would be better to combine it with neutral colors such as brown. Brown is not only able to reduce the negative effects of red, but it is also a color that can create the natural element.

 Asian home decor

Apply dark brown color through the presence of the bedroom furniture such as beds, console tables, and cabinets that are designed with Chinese typical motifs. Next, mix with the Chinese-themed ornaments such as red cherry blossom flowers, wall hangings, and a bamboo plant in the corner of the room.

 Asian home decor

• For the flooring selection, to support the color matching of the entire room, which is red and brown, it would be better to integrate parquet flooring which has natural brown color. In addition to functioning as the color decor, the parquet flooring also contributes to the enhancement of the entire room nuance.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Ornament for Chinese Clothing

The Chinese dress sense is one of the most intriguing elements of their culture. The Chinese have paid great attention to their attire throughout their history. With the passage of time however Chinese clothing has undergone many changes and the modern Chinese clothing that has evolved seems to have a much larger appeal to the masses.

Archeological discoveries from many years ago reveal the Chinese passion for decorating their clothing. They would make use of shells, beads and other ornaments to decorate their clothing. The remains from the early days also show the interesting use of color that the Chinese would make with regards to their clothing.

Chinese clothing had a system of matching and contrasting colors when it came to giving character to their dresses. Traditionally we find the Chinese to favor the use of darker colors as the base with light and contrasting colored accessories.

Contemporary Chinese clothing draws upon ancient elements of Chinese clothing traditions and seeks to reintroduce them in a revolutionary new way. Since symbolism has been a main feature of the Chinese culture you will find many modern Chinese fashion designers to make use of classic Chinese symbols in combination with modern trends.

 fashion

Chinese fashion designers have taken to the task of developing clothes for children and young people using classic Chinese symbols. You will be able to find a wide variety of modern Chinese clothing with symbols like good fortune, images of deities, opera characters, masks and dragons. The use of appliqué bronzes and designs from ancient times have come into popular use amongst the Chinese fashion designers of today. The incorporation of ancient motifs, embroidery patterns and weaving styles with modern fabrics has produced an interesting array of contemporary Chinese clothing.

 fashion

Amongst the most popularly found designs is the classic dragon and clouds image. This would often be used on robes worn by emperors of the time. Today the world wide public has the privilege to wear this symbol of royalty on modernized clothing.

 fashion

The classic Chinese symbols used in modern Chinese clothing have two distinct qualities. They are highly elegant and creative in terms of their aesthetics. On the other side they carry a deep innate meaning that adds even more value to them.

The use of the traditional macramé is also prevalent in modern Chinese clothing. This unique element is used for ornamental purposes. You will find modern Chinese clothing to be featuring the macramé on bodices, seams, pockets, borders and shoulders.

 fashion

Another modern introduction of a traditional Chinese trend can be witnessed in the bridal tiara. Taking its inspiration from the Sung Dynasty the modern bridal tiara is the ultimate example of modern Chinese clothing. It features the traditional sash and pendants in the classic colors of blue, green and red. The original version of this dress is still worn in some regions of the Hunan province in China.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Asian Bedroom Decorating Ideas

Decorating your bedroom with an Asian flair will create a sophisticated and relaxing respite. Take advantage of soft Asian fabrics, such as silk, to turn your bedroom into a comfortable and inviting space. Decorate using a rich color palette of reds and golds, and hang Chinese lanterns to enhance the room’s ambiance with soft lighting. Display bonsai trees and zen gardens to add to the Asian look and to create a sense of peace and calm within your bedroom.

Chinese Lanterns

 Asian home decor

Hang decorative paper Chinese lantern from your bedroom ceiling, which will create soft, diffused lighting. You can purchase them with white paper or with Asian-inspired symbols and prints. If you are creative, buy a white lantern and some paint, and make a one-of-a-kind design. Replace the lantern’s ordinary white bulb with a soft pink one to cast a warm glow throughout your bedroom.

Bonsai Tree

 Asian home decor

Add serenity to your bedroom by displaying a bonsai tree and a zen garden. The ancient art of pruning a bonsai tree is known to promote relaxation and inner peace. Prepare a plant pot and anchor the tree into place using wire and soil. Since bonsai trees are small, consider placing several throughout your bedroom.

Bamboo Furniture and Blinds

 Asian home decor

• Replace your bedroom furniture with a bamboo dresser, desk or bed headboard to create an authentic Asian look. To make your home eco-friendly, choose furniture that was made with sustainable and chemical-free bamboo. You can also set out a bamboo room divider to create a reading nook or another private space. Hang bamboo blinds to keep out unwanted sunlight and to naturally cool your room.

Silk Bedding and Drapes

 Asian home decor

• Create an opulent, glamorous vibe using silk bedding and window coverings. Choose fabrics in rich Asian colors, such as gold and red, and look for designs inspired by elegant kimonos and tapestries. Complete the look by displaying traditional silk paddle fans on the bedroom walls, or hanging silk jacquard lanterns from the ceiling.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Chinese fashion struts to the West

Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, even people who are not interested in buying luxury products can name a few brands and recognize their logos in China now. Chinese consumers have become so powerful and obsessed with luxury items that many of the brands view the Chinese market as a cash cow. However, luxury fashion lovers elsewhere in the world may not be familiar with any Chinese brands.

Though not widely recognized, some domestic luxury brands are seeing healthy growth and showing potential to become well-known luxury lines.

Hong Huang, creator of Brand New China (a business dedicated to promoting local designers), wrote in her blog earlier this week that in the past decades, Chinese aesthetics and values used to be at the edge of mainstream fashion. But as brands like Exception de Mixmind, Ziggy Chen, Chictopia and ZUCZUG have emerged, Chinese fashion has begun to make some noise.

Brands with potential

For most Chinese consumers just learning the “luxury” concept, the items they want and have become familiar with are fashion products. Clothes, shoes, bags, watches and jewelry are on most wish lists.

But designing and producing these items are not China’s strong suit. Due to differences in culture and custom, a typical list of luxury items in China is vastly different: liquor, tobacco, porcelain, furniture and tea. As a result, many firms that intend to create luxury fashion items fail to compete with brands from France and Italy and resort to copying their ideas.

 
 fashion  fashion

“I am not producing a Chinese Cartier but a jewelry brand that belongs to China and speaks an international language,” Wang Yunhe, president of Zhaoyi Jewelry, said on sina.com. Emerald with traditional Chinese handicrafts sounds a bit old-fashioned. But putting it into a modernized design and package can turn the “antique” into a fashionable luxury item with Chinese style. More importantly, it imbues the product with the Chinese culture of the emerald.

 
 fashion

Qeelin, also a jewelry brand, provides China with another possibility of selling luxury items to the world. Its approach is to open a store in Paris targeting the foreign market firstly and directly. After seeing so many top luxury brands’ stores in Paris, Chen Ruilin, the founder and designer of Qeelin, decided to become neighbors with them. Chen’s shop is decorated with a bit of Buddhist style and each item purchased is boxed in the shop’s signature look.

Shanghai Tang Store
 fashion
Franz Store
 fashion

These brands along with Shanghai Tang, born in Hong Kong and now has dozens of stores around the world; and Franz Collection, originally from Taiwan and now selling fine porcelain in 56 countries, are all examples of companies profiting from China’s well-established reputation for certain specialties.

However, as relative newcomers in the global luxury industry, Chinese brands are unable to speak of long-held traditions or legendary stories. Still there are ways to add a soul to the name.

Not built in a day

Wang Yuexin, editor-in-chief of Fashion Weekly told the Global Times that although there are a few relatively successful high-end Chinese brands in fashion, they are not on a scale to be qualified as “luxury brand,” especially in women’s and men’s wear. While Chinese names are appearing more often in international magazines as designers, and dresses worn by Chinese actresses are catching attention on the red carpets of the world, the fame and reputation of a person or a dress cannot represent an entire brand.

NE-Tiger
 fashion
Guo Pei’s Works
 fashion

Zhang Zhifeng’s NE-Tiger and Rose Studio by Guo Pei are the most famous Chinese fashion brands in the world; both started with haute couture but now also produce ready-to-wear items. Cathy Horyn from The New York Times has reported on Guo and highly praised her designs. However, the two brands are largely based on the designers’ personal reputations and have not become chain businesses like the best luxury brands in the global market.

Wang explained that many entrepreneurs and enterprises are aiming high but few have the resources and courage to achieve their goal. They understand building up a solid and reputable brand is not a one-day task. “The top luxury brands all started with a designer and developed for a century to turn a fashion studio into a real global business. Only time can solve many of the problems we have at the moment,” said Wang.

Cai Sujian, the president of China Luxury Institute, a Hong Kong registered association, said the difference between top Chinese fashion brands and the world-class luxury brands mainly exists in the brand content, taking into account its originality, popularity, quality of services and cultural meaning.

“It is why NE-Tiger and Rose Studio products keep pace with the world standard in terms of craft and quality, but the brand as a whole still keeps a distance,” said Cai.

Culture is key

In an article by Michel Gutsatz published in Forbes last year, Qeelin was described as a brand that successfully combines traditional Chinese culture with French techniques. He emphasized that this is an advantage of the brand management but does not necessary lead to a real luxury brand. And it’s the same for the rest of the Chinese high-end fashion brands.

“The soul of a brand and fashion industry is its culture. Without culture, great investments and extremely high prices do not define the brand as luxury,” said Wang.

Cai pointed out that a key issue here is that China does not have a clear modern culture. Modernism or postmodernism, contemporary culture in China is hugely influenced by the West so developing an original culture is at the issue’s core.

For Wang, the culture we are talking about does not necessarily refer to any symbolic figure: “China today is within the globalized context. As long as the products are designed and made in China, they represent China, with or without looking Chinese.”

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Fashion Timeline of Chinese Women Clothing(2)

Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368AD)

 fashion

Han women continued to wear the jacket and skirt. However, the choice of darker shades and buttoning on the left showed Mongolian influence.

“After the Mongols settled down in the Central Plains, Mongolian customs and costumes lso had their influence on those of the Han people. While remaining the main costume for Han women, the jacket and skirt had deviated greatly in style from those of the Tang and Song periods. Tight-fitting garments gave way to big, loose ones; and collar, sleeves and skirt became straight. In addition, lighter more serene colours gained preference.

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644AD)

 fashion

The clothing for women in the Ming Dynasty consisted mainly of gowns, coats, rosy capes, over-dresses with or without sleeves, and skirts. These styles were imitations of ones first seen in the Tang and Song Dynasties. However, the openings were on the right-hand side, according to the Han Dynasty convention.

The formal dress for commoners could only be made of coarse purple cloth, and no gold embroidery was allowed. Gowns could only in such light colors as purple, green and pink; and in no case should crimson, reddish blue or yellow be used. These regulations were observed for over a decade, and it was not until the 14th year of Hong Wu that minor changes were made.

Qing Dynasty (1644 -1911AD)

 fashion

When China fell under Manchurian rule, Chinese men were forced to adopt Manchurian customs. As a sign of submission, the new government made a decree that men must shave their head and wear the Manchurian queue or lose their heads. Many choose the latter.

On the other hand, Chinese women were not pressured to adopt Manchurian clothing and fashions. “Women, in general, wore skirts as their lower garments, and red skirts were for women of position. At first, there were still the “phoenix-tail” skirt and the “moonlight” skirt and others from the Ming tradition. However the styles evolved with the passage of time: some skirts were adorned with ribbons that floated in the air when one walked; some had little bells fastened under them: others had their lower edge embroidered with wavy designs. As the dynasty drew to an end, the wearing of trousers became the fashion among commoner women. There were trousers with full crotches and over trousers, both made of silk embroidered with patters.

The Manchurians attempted several times to eradicate the practice of foot-binding, but were largely unsuccessful. Manchurian women admired the gait of bound women but were effectively banned from practicing food-binding. Hence, a “flower pot shoe” later came into creation and it allowed its wearer the same unsteady gait but without any need for foot-binding.

Republic Era (1912-1949AD)

 fashion

Ever since the Tang Dynasty, the design of Chinese women’s costumes had kept to the same straight style: flat and straight lines for the chest, shoulders and hips, with few curves visible; and it was not until the 1920’s that Chinese women came to appreciate ‘the beauty of curves’, and to pay attention to figure when cutting and making up dresses, instead of adhering to the traditional style.

The most popular item of a Chinese woman’s wardrobe in modern times was the qi pao. Originall the dress of the Manchus, it was adopted by Han women in the 1920s. Modifications and improvements were then made so that for a time, it became the most fashionable form of dress for women in China.

Two main factors account for women’s general preference for the qi pao: first, it was economical and convenient to wear.

Women traditionally bound their breasts in the Ming and Qing dynasties with tight fitting vests and continued to do so in the early 20th century.

The vests were called xiaomajia ‘little vest’ or xiaoshan ‘little shirt” “used by Chinese women as underclothing for the upper part of the body. “Doudu [is] a sort of apron for the upper body. In former times the doudu had been worn by everyone, old and young, male and female. The young wore red, the middle-aged wore white or grey-green, the elderly wore black. A little pocket sewn into the top was used by adults to secrete them money and by children their sweets. When a girl got engaged, she would show off her embroidery skills by sending an elaborately worked doudu to her fiancé, decorated with bats for good forturne and pomegranates, symbolizing many sons.

A ban on bound breasts began in 1927, in which the government started advocating for the “Natural Breast Movement”. Despite this, bound breasts still widely continued into the 1930s. The government also banned earrings as it fell under the criteria of deforming the natural body. The 1930s also saw the introduction of the western/French bra come to Shanghai.

The little vest was designed to constrain the breasts and streamline the body. Such a garment was necessary to look comme il faut around 1908, when (as J. Dyer Ball observed): ‘fashion decreed that jackets should fit tight, though not yielding to the contours of the figure, except in the slightest degree, as such an exposure of the body would be considered immodest.’ It became necessary again in the mid-twenties, when the jacket-blouse—a garment cut on rounded lines – began to give way to the qipao. At this stage, darts were not used to tailor the bodice or upper part of the qipao, nor would they be till the mid-fifties. The most that could be done by way of further fitting the qipao to the bosom was to stretch the material at the right places through ironing. Under these circumstances, breast-binding must have made the tailor’s task easier.

Successful eradication of bound feet would not come until the 1949 when the People’s Republic of China came into power.

Republic Era and 21st century

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1950s-1960’s

Under the People’s Republic of China, very few mainland women wore the cheongsam, save for ceremonial attire. Clothing became de-sexualized for mainlanders.

It was the flip side in Hong Kong, as the cheongsam continued its function as everyday wear which lasted until the late 1960s. The cheongsam in the 1950s and 1960s became even tighter fitting to further accentuate feminine curves. Western clothing became the default after the late 1960s, though the cheongsam continued to survive as uniforms for students (who donned a looser and androgynous version), waitresses, brides, and beauty contestants.

21st century

Designers today are creating new forms of the qipao/cheongsam. The fish tail appears to be a current popular trend.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!