Ancient Chinese Costume Culture Exhibition
Launch date: February 6, 2021
Venue: North 18 Exhibition Hall, National Museum of China (Beijing)
Clothing is not only a necessity for people’s life, with the practical function of “sheltering from the cold and heat, protecting from the wind and rain, covering the body”, but also an important carrier of ancient culture, with the cultural function of “distinguishing between superiority and inferiority, distinguishing between nobility and inferiority, and distinguishing between affinity and alienation”. The development of Chinese clothing culture over the past thousands of years not only reflects the development trajectory of ancient material and spiritual civilization, but also outlines the continuous life of the Chinese people.
On February 6, 2021, the “Ancient Chinese Costume Culture Exhibition” was officially opened at the National Museum of China. The exhibition is based on decades of academic research by Mr. Sun Ji and other scholars, divided into six sections according to historical periods, the exhibition features nearly 130 artifacts (sets) covering jade and stone, bone, pottery, costumes, gold and silver accessories, and calligraphy and paintings, with more than 40 auxiliary exhibits, about 170 pictures, and multimedia facilities, making it an extraordinary exhibition.
If you are interested in ancient Chinese costumes, this exhibition is a must-see!
Ancient Chinese Costume Culture Exhibition Description
It is especially worth mentioning that, in addition to a large number of objects directly representing ancient dress shapes, the exhibition also drew a large number of line drawings and produced 15 restored portraits of dresses from different eras, striving to present a complete picture of the overall image of ancient Chinese clothing and accessories and fully demonstrate the splendid achievements of ancient Chinese material and spiritual civilization.
Costume restoration portrait: the lifelike portraits and exquisite costumes are the most intuitive way to feel the beauty of ancient costumes, even if you don’t know much about the related knowledge before.
Therefore, this exhibition can be said to be a three-dimensional version of a brief history of ancient Chinese costumes in a certain sense.
In addition, interesting interactive equipment is also essential, such as: What did the Ming Dynasty Buzi (补子) look like? The National Museum of China, by examining the relevant information, has created this “Changfu (常服)” display.
Another example: if you want to “try on” the costumes of various dynasties, just wave your hand in front of the intelligent electronic screen, you can easily “change clothes”
There is also a kaleidoscopic immersion experience area, with ancient costume pattern elements to create a sense of fantasy of light.
Ancient Chinese Costume Culture Exhibit Description
Back to the main topic, when we entered the exhibition hall and first saw the “Introduction” section
As early as the late Paleolithic period, Chinese ancestors began to wear clothes and accessories, and the concept of costume also emerged, thus starting the Chinese costume culture.
Further down, there are six units that show the evolution of ancient Chinese costumes from the pre-Qin Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty.
Unit 1: Pre-Qin Costumes
During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the rulers promoted the “ritual system (礼制)” and systematized the hierarchical distinction of costumes, which were followed by later generations. During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, there were many years of warfare, and there were “Schools of thought contend”, which had a great influence on dress. At this time, there were Shenyi (深衣) with interconnected upper and lower bodies, and the introduction of Hu clothing.
Unit 2: Qin, Han, Wei, Jin, North and South Dynasties Costumes
During the Qin and Han dynasties, a set of dress system was established based on the inheritance of the dress system of the Shang and Zhou dynasties, which became the symbol of the hierarchical ritual system of the great unified dynasty. The Guan system was subordinate to the clothing system, and was a symbol of identity, rank, and even official position.
The Wei, Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties were a period of great change in China’s history, and the integration of nationalities was accompanied by the innovation of costumes. The clothing and ceremonial system preserved in the Southern Dynasty continued to influence the ethnic minorities in the North, and the reasonable elements in the clothing of the northern ethnic minorities were gradually absorbed by the Han costume, and the Chinese costume culture achieved new development.
Unit 3: Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties Costumes
The Sui and Tang Dynasties were an important period in the development of ancient costumes in China. The Sui Dynasty’s restoration of the Han and Wei clothing system laid the foundation for the perfection of the clothing system in the Tang Dynasty.
The vast territory of the Tang Dynasty, political stability, economic development, progress in textile technology and frequent foreign exchanges all contributed to the unprecedented prosperity of clothing development. At that time, a large number of foreigners lived in Chang’an (长安) and other cities, so the costumes absorbed some of the characteristics of the Hu clothing and developed the Tang costumes with novel styles, beautiful colors and rich patterns.
Tang Dynasty – Painted figurines – National Museum of China Collection:
Unit 4: Song, Liao, Jin, Xixia and Yuan costumes
The Song Dynasty put an end to the chaotic situation of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, and social and economic development was achieved to a certain extent. The “Cheng–Zhu school (程朱理学)” dominated the ideology of the Song Dynasty and influenced the lifestyle and aesthetic standards of the Song Dynasty, which showed a tendency of simplicity and restraint in clothing.
At the same time, the Liao, Jin, and Xixia minority regimes, which coexisted with the Song dynasties, intermingled with the Han Chinese in social, economic, and cultural aspects, and the most obvious manifestation of this intermingling was the Huization of Hanfu clothing and the Hanization of Hu clothing.
The costumes of the Yuan Dynasty retained more of the characteristics of the nomadic peoples of the northern grasslands, and were influenced by the Han Chinese and established a crown and costume system.
Unit 5: Ming Dynasty Costume
The early Ming Dynasty restored the Han and Tang traditions, inherited the Futou (幞头), round-necked robe and Yudai (玉带, jade belt) of the Tang and Song dynasties, laid down the basic style of official dress in the Ming Dynasty, and formulated a clear and detailed clothing ritual system to distinguish officials’ rank by Buzi, pattern, wearing Shou (绶), clothing color and Yapai (牙牌). As the Ming Dynasty government attached importance to agriculture and promoted cotton planting, cotton cloth was popularized and the clothing of common people was improved.
Unit 6: Qing Dynasty Costume
Qing dynasty to implement the policy of “Change Manchu hairstyle, change the Manchu clothing”, according to the Manchu custom of unifying men’s clothing, abolishing the traditional Han crown and clothing system. Rulers in the formulation and implementation of national policies have obvious cultural characteristics of the Manchu people, especially in the costume performance.
Its costume in the preservation of the basic characteristics of the nation to facilitate riding and shooting, the Han costume contained in the idea of etiquette, with auspicious patterns, colors, and other elements into it, forming a unique Qing costume culture.
The above is the content of the Ancient Chinese Costume Culture Exhibition held at the National Museum of China. If you are interested in traditional Chinese costume, you can visit the exhibition site and feel the charm of costume culture together. Because it is a topical exhibition, the exhibition period is relatively long, you can click the official website of National Museum of China to check it out.
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