Clothing in Ancient China Illustration


Ancient China for Kids

People in ancient China wore tunics. Women wore long tunics, sometimes with a second tunic over the first. Some worn pants under their tunics. The men worn shorter tunics over pants. In colder weather, people wore warm, short jackets. (It wasn't until the middle ages, about 1200 CE, that cotton was introduced by the Mongols.)

One emperor decided that peasants could not wear bright colors, but that did not last very long. Later on, in the Middle Ages, the government did get involved in what people could wear and how they could look. But in ancient China, nobody cared what colors you wore as long as you did your work. Most farmers wore dark blues and grays. But if a farmer wanted to allow his wife to dye her clothes in bright colors, she could.

There was a big different between the clothes of rich and poor. Poor people made clothing out of various plant fibers. Their clothing was rather stiff and scratchy, until the introduction of cotton. The rich made clothing out of silk. Their clothes were soft and beautiful and richly colored.

The rich and some of the people who lived in the cities did ape the clothing and manners of the royal court to the best of their ability. During the Tang Dynasty, China's Golden Age, people who lived in the cities had fun with hair styles and makeup. Women wore little hats that had dangling bells on them that rang softly. Men wore topknots. Men shaved their heads except for the hair right in the center. They wrapped that hair up in a knot. They used hairpins to keep it wrapped up. They wore jade belts and fancy hats. and coats made out of fur. 

Shoes were always important. They were a status symbol. Peasants wore straw sandals. Nobles wore cloth slippers.

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