Chinese Clothing in the Ming, Ch'ing, and Republic
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Chinese Clothing

Ch'ing Dynasty fisherman with queue
Ch'ing Dynasty fisherman

In the Ch'ing Dynasty, most people kept on dressing the way they had before: both men and women wore mostly loose blue or black cotton shirts over loose cotton pants. But the government got more and more involved in how people should dress and wear their hair. The Ch'ing emperors were invaders - Manchu people - and Han people in China were angry about being invaded. In order to show how powerful they were, the Ch'ing emperors forced all the men in China to shave the front of their heads and wear the rest of their hair braided into a long braid, or queue. If you grew out your front hair, or cut off your queue, the police could tell you were against the government.

Manchu Shoes
Manchu woman wearing "flower bowl" shoes

During the Ch'ing Dynasty, Han women were still binding their feet, but Manchu women didn't. After a while, Manchu women began to wear platform shoes so they would look more like the beautiful Han women with bound feet! Manchu women also wore long loose dresses, while Han women wore jackets and pants. Manchu men wore long moustaches, to show that they were Manchu.

Manchu bannerman
A Manchu official

When the Ch'ing Dynasty ended in a revolution in 1912, the new rulers of China immediately cut off their queues and grew out their shaved hair. People were happy to be free to grow their hair however they wanted! But the new Republic of China also wanted to tell people how to dress. They wanted everyone to be more modern. They made it illegal for women to bind their feet as they had done for hundreds of years.

Great Leap Forward
Children marching during the Great Leap Forward

Instead, the People's Republic wanted men and women to be equal, and to dress exactly the same. Nobody could wear long robes anymore. Both men and women, rich and poor would wear pants and jackets in blue or black and cut their hair short. That way everyone would be equal.

Modern China Clothing
A rice farmer in modern China

After Mao Tse-Tung died in 1976, the government of China relaxed a little about clothes. Today, most people in China still wear plain jackets and loose pants the way they always have, but many young people in big cities wear fashionable modern clothing: jeans and t-shirts, or European-style business suits. The coolest young people wear their pajama pants around town!

What about ancient Chinese clothing?

Bibliography and further reading about Chinese clothing:

Early Chinese Clothing
Cotton
Silk
Ancient China
More about China


Celebrating Black History Month with the pharaoh Hatshepsut, the queen Shanakdakhete, the poet Phillis Wheatley, the medical consultant Onesimus, the freedom fighters Toussaint L'Ouverture, Denmark Vesey, Yaa Asantewaa, and Samora Moises Machel, and the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Proud of your class page, homework page, or resource page? Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Cool stuff we've been enjoying: Looking for birthday gifts? Check out these new Chromebooks - all the computer you need for only $229.00!. Then study in peace with these Beats wireless headphones - for the exact same price! When you're done, show off your presentation or watch a movie with this excellent smartphone projector for only $39.99!


Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
ADVERTISEMENT
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 23 February, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT