Costume in the Han Dynasty

China’s complete code of costume and trappings was established in the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). The yarn-dyeing, embroidering and metal processing technologies developed rapidly in the period, spurring changes in costume and adornments.The costume code of the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD) followed the one established in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). In the Eastern Han Dynasty, people in black had to wear purple silk adornments to match their clothes. People usually wore costume with a long hat at grand ceremonies offering sacrifices to gods or ancestors. The dress of the queen in these ceremonies consisted of dark-purple frock and black trousers. The silk dress of the queen consisted of cyan frock and buff trousers.

The Western Han Dynasty implemented the Shenyi (long coat) system, which featured a cicada-shaped hat, red clothes and “田”-shaped collar. In addition, people of that time wore jade articles and red shoes. The frock and skirt were sewn together in the Shenyi system. Underpants for memorial ceremonies were decorated with black brims, and those for court dress in feudal China were decorated with red brims. All the garments were collectively called as Chanyi (unlined garment).
Costumes in the Han Dynasty fell into two categories according to Yijin (one or two pieces making up the front of a Chinese jacket or grown). There were two types of garments: the curving-front unlined garment with buttons deviously down from the collar to the axilla; the straight-front unlined garment with buttons were straightly down from the collar to the lower part. Curving-front garment originated from the Shenyi (long coat) prevalent in the Warring States Period, and was still in use in the Han Dynasty. But few people wore the Shenyi garments during the Eastern Han Dynasty.
There were specific stipulations on colors of court garments in the Han Dynasty. Officers must wear garments according to the five time periods, i.e. cyan garments in the spring, red in the first two months of the summer, yellow in the last month of the summer, white in the autumn and black in the winter.

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