Chinese clothing is not only externally elegant but it also symbolizes culture and communicates its own vitality. Archeological remains from the Shantingtung culture unearthed objects like bone sewing needles, stone beads and shells with holes in them clearly pointing out the use of ornamentation and sewing in that age. Clothing associated with colors was prevalent; red was the color for summer, green for spring, black for winters and white represented of autumns.
Ancient Chinese clothing favored darker colors and a fully developed system of matching, coordinating and contrasting colors and shades was used in apparels. Modern Chinese clothing has combined the ancient symbols of good fortune with the more modern fashion aesthetics in the Chinese modern clothing. A wide range of eye catchy designs for children and young peoples clothing is designed in modern China, which includes lions, deities and masks of Chinese opera characters. Modern silhouettes are increasingly using designs and appliqu bronzes from the ancient clothing. Prints, weaves, embroideries, and motifs from the ancient culture merge with new age fabrics and styles to create modern Chinese clothing.
Distinctive and unusual designs from centuries gone by like the dragon and clouds embroideries used on robes meant for emperors are making a come back with modern Chinese clothing. These motifs and designs are beautiful and also symbolize ancient culture. The nine dragon and five cloud design was to bring good fortune to its wearer, and the design still holds its auspicious significance with modern china. The amalgamation of this modern and ancient apparel, trends and symbolism is attractive and earthy. The traditional macram is broadly used in modern Chinese clothing for ornamental purposes. It is used on borders, shoulders, pockets, openings, bodices and seams. The modern bridal tiara is another successful combination of traditional and modern in its Sung dynasty design. Traditional pendants and Sash in traditional colors of red, green and blue embroidered in the Hunan province style is still in existence.
The Chinese modern clothing springs from traditional designs and customs. Today social occasions still see men dressed in a refined traditional long gown. Women too wear a modified form of fashion from the Ching Dynasty. There is no end to the variations to these ancient clothes in height, length and width and ornamentation. Even the silk making, weaving and spinning techniques from the past have been developed with modernity and textile industries grown around them. Chinese modern clothing hence helps people not only in china but around the world enjoy traditional features and modern chic in clothing apparels.
The most influential of all ancient times is perhaps the Shang dynasty when silk weaving, spinning and making had been developed. The modern Chinese clothing is visually different yet deeply rooted and interwoven with history. Ancient Chinese art and clothing has and will remain to influence modern Chinese clothing majorly. Culturally, china is neither fully modern nor traditional; this is evident in their lifestyle, modern adaptations of ancient way of dressing and even through ancient art forms depicted as motifs on modern clothing. Despite the advent of western influences and the business suit and jeans in the country, china and modern Chinese clothing remains deeply rooted in the countrys history and ancient religion and practices.
Ancient Japanese clothing is often mistaken as the Kimono. The word kimono simply means thing to wear and it is a modern term coined when Japan was pressurized to name a national costume. Though what is call a Kimono today is somewhat similar the clothing of ancient Japan. The long, narrow garment worn now tied with an Obi, or a Sash around the waist, was a look achieved around the Edo period (17th to 19th century).
Japan was a collection of loosely tied clans and while Japan aspired to become an Empire, it had increased trade with China. With the advent of trade, came Chinese dress materials and style of clothing. Ti will hence be safe to assume that ancient Japanese clothing was largely influenced by ancient Chinese clothing. By 718, the clothing codes had restrictions entirely influenced by china. The influence of china on ancient Japan was no less than a military siege! While wearing a robe, the Chinese considered wearing a robe form right to left barbaric since it was easy for right handed people. The code in Japan specified that robes had to be worn right over left and it became a convention of Kimono wearing in Japan ever since.
Chinese ancient clothing has been setting trends for centuries. Rules of dressing were followed religiously and most dress patterns and designs were influenced by religion. Ancient Chinese clothing was in warm tones with a lot of embroidery and silk sashes used to tie the robes instead of buttons. During the Zhou Dynasty, dragon robes were seen mostly worn by emperors. These were heavily embroidered with nine yellow dragons and five cloud patterns. These were considered auspicious for the wearer and had a symbolic meaning. The nine and five combinations were calculated deliberately used while designing; this symbolized the dignity of the throne. Dragons were embroidered on the front and back of the robes, also the knee areas and even shoulders.
Ancient Chinese clothing for women was the Cheongsam which was a one piece suit consisting of a high neck with a closed collar and short or medium sleeves. The fitted waist and slits on the sides complimented womens figures well. The tunic suit dominated ancient Chinese clothing, known as the Zhongshan suit, had a turned down collar and 4 pockets. Animal print embroidery patches were used during the Ming and Qing dynasty. Beautiful in appearance and very intricate, these embroideries also symbolized the ranks of officers who wore them.
Both the ancient Chinese clothing and ancient Japanese clothing evolved over the centuries and during different dynasties ruled. The major differences in the designs and embroideries were that while the ancient Chinese clothing symbolized religion and auspicious symbolism; the ancient Japanese clothing was more colorful and used floral patterns without any symbolic meanings. Both the clothing styles however distinguished in social ranking, age, sex and other aspects. Clothes of a wearer explained their social status or their marital status where women were concerned.
The Chinese were always a fashionable race and Chinese ancient clothing was largely influenced by all the dynasties which ruled it. The Han Chinese clothing or the Hanfu has the longest history of clothes worn. The Hanfu rules of dressing were followed strictly as a mark of respect for the culture. On the other hand, ancient Japanese clothing kept changing with every dynasty that ruled Japan. Since the Kimono is a national dress, it has always been mistaken for very ancient clothing worn by the Japanese people which is incorrect.
The basic design of the Ancient Chinese clothing Hanfu was largely developed during the Shang Dynasty. The Shang had two basic styles the Yi which was the coat worn on top and the Shang whichwas the skirt worn beneath it. Buttons on any ancient Chinese clothing was substituted by a Sash. The clothing was in warm tones. The Zhou dynasty in western China varied in the sleeves being narrow as well as broad. The length of the skirt varied from knee length to the ankle and the different sizes and styles created a distinction between the people who wore them. Ancient Chinese clothing used minimal stitching on the garment and the use of embroidery and silk sashes to design the dresses.
Japanese ancient clothing was majorly influenced by Chinese clothing. Vigorous trade between Japan and its continental neighbors brought in Chinese dresses and styles into Japan during the Han Dynasty. The Tang styles and Sui dynasty from China influenced clothing in Japan while it was developing from a collection of loose clans to an Empire. All robes in Japan were to be worn from left to right just like the Chinese. Right to left was considered barbaric in China and the left over right became the conventional rule of wearing a Kimono ever since. During the Heian period (894 specifically), Chinese influence began dying out and Chinese characters began being abbreviated in Japanese script. The Heian court was taken to sensitivity of art and subtle beauty and wardrobe became much more detailed. Colors, combinations and fabric textures changed and separated themselves from Chinese influence.
After the Heian period, the Kamakura period saw a number of clashes and war clans within Japan. The ancient Japanese clothing soon underwent another change and now clothes became more functional. The number of layers and broad sleeved clothes were shunned for more usable clothing. Soon the imperial land split into a southern and northern court and these peoples lives got influenced by the soft court life. Fights resumed and the gradual decadence is obvious in the elaborate dresses of the period. Women had stopped wearing the Hakama and the robes were lengthened to ankle level. Veils and robes over the head were some strange ways experimented and worn during this time.
Japanese ancient clothing was mainly robes and most of the patterns and designs were religious and auspicious. Dragons were printed with nine yellow dragons and five cloud patterns. These heavily embroidered robes were won by the emperors and were auspicious for the wearer. The Cheongsam was another one piece dress adorned by ancient Chinese women. It had a high neck with a closed collar and short or medium sleeves. Buttoned on sides with a fitted waist, it had slits going up from the sides and complemented their figures.