This article introduces a typical outfit from the late Ming Dynasty, which is around the 16th to 17th century for you. Let’s see how to wear Hanfu – the long shirt and Ma Mian skirt suit.
The top is a long shirt with a standing collar also known as a Mandarin collar, pairing it with a Ma Mian skirt which translates to horse face skirt, it’s the single most representative skirt of the Ming Dynasty.
The History of Ma Mian Skirt & the Meaning Behind the Name
Ma Mian Qun literarily means Horse Face Skirt, but it actually has nothing to do with a horse’s face, the term ‘Ma Mian’ in ancient China has another meaning, it refers to the defensive structure that projects outward on city walls, which are located at regular intervals.
A Ming Dynasty scholar labelled the rectangular area of the skirt Ma Mian because it looks like the structure. And today we call this type of skirt Ma Mian skirt.
Characteristic of Ma Mian Skirt?
When the skirt is laid flat, we can see three such structures, we call it Qun Men (裙门) or skirt door today, with another door hiding behind in the center, there are four doors in total, but only two are visible when it’s worn on the body, the pleats in between the doors are facing each other.
Ma Mian skirt is a one-piece skirt that wraps around the body, but it’s made by attaching two pieces of fabric on the same waistband. There is another type of two-piece skirt on the market today, it’s a modern design that comes in standardized sizes like ready-to-wear clothing, but there are no archeological findings of this design. The Ma Mian skirt was worn throughout the 276 years of the Ming Dynasty. In the beginning, it had fewer pleats. Later on, fancy decorations were added to the knee area, the patterns moved lower on the skirt over time.
By the late Ming Dynasty, single-colored skirts with minimum or no embroideries became popular. There are many Ma Mian skirt artifacts today, most of which are well preserved. We can see a wide range of colors, designs, lengths, door widths, and the number of pleats.
How to Wear a Ma Mian Skirt
Wearing a Ming Dynasty style under vest first.
This is a Song Dynasty style underskirt called Gan Shang Qun, some people believe it’s the origin of the Ma Mian skirt.
To wear the Ma Mian skirt, make sure the front door is in the center, and if the door width on the sides is different, put the wider one on the inside, pull up the inside, and fold it down. Nevertheless, ancient people always wore a skirt or pants underneath the outer layer skirt, you would never see bare legs.
History of the Standing Collar Long Shirt
There are many artifacts of the standing collar long shirt or jacket as well, from plain single-colored shirts, to formal attire with fancy and heavy embroideries.
This combination of standing collar long shirt and Ma Mian skirt is common in paintings during the late Ming Dynasty. The trend later passed down to the Qing Dynasty, in the contrary, Qing Dynasty skirts tend to have prominent decorations on the skirt door. Eventually, the standing collar long shirt merged with the Manchurian dress and became a popular outfit for the Qing Dynasty ladies.
How to Wear the Long Shirt for the Ma Mian Skirt
This Ming Dynasty style standing collar shirt is made of strong yet sheer fabric, with breathable jacquard design, it has large wide sleeves, and a standing or Mandarin collar. The shirt folds to the right and is secured by ties.
First, fold the right panel to the left and tie it, then fold the outer layer to the right.
Each dynasty has its own culture, this Ming Dynasty outfit allows us to take a peek into ancient ladies’ reserved, refined, and graceful lifestyle.