What is Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress?

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traditional chinese wedding dress ming dynasty style newhanfu

Chinese traditional wedding is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful weddings.  Traditional Chinese wedding dress also has a long history and rich tradition. The traditional wedding in China is not only the wedding of the newly married couple, but also the celebration of their family and the whole culture.

Since ancient times, China has been a country that attaches great importance to etiquette, and “wedding” is undoubtedly the most important thing in one’s life. As an important part of the wedding, the wedding dress has a long history in China too. The Chinese culture has been passed on for thousands of years, and the traditional wedding dress has changed in the long process of passing on.

Although the custom of traditional Chinese wedding has changed a lot with the passage of time (the ancient traditional wedding custom can refer to this article: Introduction of Chinese Traditional Hanfu Wedding), but today, with the continuous rejuvenation of Chinese clothing culture, many newlyweds choose to wear a traditional Chinese wedding dress on this important day.

So, please follow me to explore the traditional Chinese wedding dress.

traditional chinese wedding dress ming dynasty style newhanfu

 

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General introduction of the traditional Chinese wedding dress

The Chinese wedding dress originated in Zhou Dynasty, experienced the development of Qin and Han Dynasties, reached its peak in Tang and Song Dynasties, and formed the modern “traditional wedding dress” in Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Generally speaking, the main color of the Chinese traditional wedding is red, which is the color of happiness, auspiciousness, and festivity in China, and is the traditional color used for festive activities.

There are various patterns of traditional Chinese wedding clothes, such as Dragon and Phoenix, mandarin duck, all of which are traditional auspicious patterns of the Chinese nation. The patterns themselves are also very exquisite and have strong Chinese characteristics

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Traditional Chinese wedding dress in different dynasties

Zhou Dynasty

The Chinese wedding dress in Zhou Dynasty is characterized by seriousness and solemnity. The color of the wedding dress basically follows the “XuanXun system”, “Xuan” means black, and “Xun” means light red. Mainly in black color, the light red is used as the rimmed of a wedding dress.

traditional chinese wedding dress zhou dynasty style newhanfu
the prototype of the Zhou Dynasty traditional wedding dress

At that time, people were generally superstitious. They believed that the two colors of Xuan and Xun symbolized the coexistence of heaven and earth, and they were the noblest. Therefore, the wedding dress mainly composed of black and light red also represented Zhou People’s awe of nature.

The bridegroom was wearing a JueBian (爵弁, a kind of Chinese traditional formal hat ), a blue and black coat (with a pure black-rimmed), a light red dress. The bride is wearing a decorated wig woven with real hair, and the top and the bottom are all black, representing the single-minded.

traditional chinese wedding dress zhou dynasty style newhanfu
improved version of the Zhou Dynasty traditional wedding dress

Han Dynasty

The ceremonious style of the wedding dress in the Han Dynasty is “Quju-Shenyi (曲裾深衣)”, which can be worn by both men and women. The whole body of the dress is tight and narrow, long and can be dragged to the ground, and the hem is generally in the shape of a trumpet, without exposing the feet, fully showing the gentle and elegant of women. There are two kinds of sleeves: wide and narrow. Most of the cuffs are rimmed. The collar is a cross collar with a low neckline to reveal the inner garment.

In the Han Dynasty, it was popular to wear a garment with many layers. In addition, the bride will cover her shame with a veil, which can be said to be the origin of the Chinese bride covering veil.

Wei and Jin Dynasties

In the Wei and Jin Dynasties, the wedding dress was mainly made up of cross collar or straight necked wide-sleeved shirt and Duijin wide-sleeved Ruqun.

The bride dressed up in a long-sleeved top and skirt, with a large number of layers. When wearing them, they had to fold one by one, and then put on a wide-sleeved coat outside, but it was simplified in the late Tang Dynasty.

traditional chinese wedding dress wei jin dynasties dynasty style newhanfu
white wedding dress

In a period of time, the white wedding dress was advocated, which was mainly due to the influence of the atmosphere of “returning to the basics”. This kind of full-length white wedding dress is the same as the modern white wedding dress in terms of color.

Tang Dynasties

In the prosperous period of the Tang Dynasty, with the improvement of people’s life quality and level, and the improvement of dyeing skills, people began to pursue gorgeous beauty in this period. As a result, the wedding dress began to choose more vivid colors such as crimson and green.

traditional chinese wedding dress tang dynasty style newhanfu
the traditional Chinese wedding dress of the Tang Dynasty

The bridegroom wears a red dress, while the bride wears a dark blue dress, decorated with gold, silver, and other hairpin decorations, which is a typical red with green. Some scholars believe that this is the origin of the red wedding dress. Such bold color matching supports the prosperous and beautiful Tang Dynasty.

Song Dynasty

The Song Dynasty advocated simplicity, but in order to show the importance of marriage between family blood and two surnames, it continued the style of the Tang Dynasty.

Since the Song Dynasty, red and phoenix coronet and robes of rank have gradually become important elements of wedding dress, and the phoenix coronet has been officially designated as the dress and included in the “crown clothing system”.

In terms of color, the color of women’s wedding dress in the early Song Dynasty is generally green, and the color of the dress is generally the same as that in the Tang Dynasty.

traditional chinese wedding dress song dynasty style newhanfu
Traditional wedding dress in “The Story Of Ming Lan”

Ming Dynasty

In ancient times, there were strict regulations on the wearing and color selection of clothes, and the common people could not conflict with the official and formal clothes.

However, the wedding ceremony of the Ming Dynasty became an exception. The common men of the Ming Dynasty can wear ninth-rank officer’s costume when they marry their wives. The bride is also allowed to wear a phoenix coronet and robes of rank, but only for weddings.

In the Ming Dynasty, the Han wedding dress formed a more typical and mature shape, and many wedding customs continued. The wedding dress of the Ming Dynasty is considered to be the most classic and representative of traditional Chinese wedding dress.

traditional chinese wedding dress ming dynasty style newhanfu

Modern wedding dress

The most popular modern Chinese style wedding dress is Dragon Phoenix Gua (龙凤褂, long feng gua). The Dragon Phoenix Gua can be traced back to the Ming Dynasty. Under the feudal monarchy system at that time, except that the royal family can use the dragon and phoenix pattern, ordinary people can’t use it. Later, Dragon Phoenix Gua became popular among the people.

Dragon Phoenix Gua, also known as Gua skirt (褂裙), is a traditional dress of Han nationality, which is the style of Duijin collar + Horse-face skirt. Traditional Dragon Phoenix Gua sews gold and silver threads on the clothes with a red cloth as the bottom. The proportion of gold and silver thread density in the whole clothes can be divided into five grades. The patterns can be Dragon, Phoenix, mandarin duck, peony, etc.

traditional chinese wedding dress long feng gua modern style newhanfu

Among them, the highest Dragon Phoenix Gua gold and silver thread density is close to 100%, and the production cycle is more than 1.5 years. Each Dragon Phoenix Gua is a pure hand-made garment, which costs a lot of manpower and is a rare souvenir. Even after years of change, it will not lose its unique charm. It is precise because of the inheritance of the craftsman’s spirit that the Dragon Phoenix Gua is particularly precious.

The Dragon Phoenix Gua has evolved into a traditional dress with national characteristics, representing a happy and happy moral. And the styles are also more diverse. On the premise of retaining the original characteristics of clothing, they are also improved, which is more in line with the aesthetic of modern people, and more suitable and can better highlight the body of the bride.

From ancient times to the present, the traditional Chinese wedding dress is constantly changing, but what remains unchanged is good wishes and expectations for the future.

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