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Ancient China

Han Dynasty Music: A Han-Dy Guide

Han Dynasty Music: A Han-Dy Guide

When Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang decided to destroy all ‘evidence’ of scholarship and culture in ancient China during the Qin Dynasty, with books of everything burnt to crisps, leaving nothing behind, traditional Chinese music was in danger of being lost forever. However, when the Han Dynasty came around, this fate was reversed…

Show Some Skin AH! , no title (22 June 2016). CC0 1.0., no title (22 June 2016). CC0 1.0.


Whenever you come across traditional Chinese clothing, do you find yourself intrigued by the different styles? In ancient China, there were many differing clothing styles, which changed with each reigning dynasty, especially women’s clothing. Thus, the clothing styles provided a reflection of the governance, values and the foreign relations of each dynasty.


Firstly, the Tang dynasty (618 BCE - 907 BCE) was known to be the most powerful and liberal empire in history with its reformed culture, art and fashion trends. This occurred because of the establishment of an unprecedented level of foreign trade and diplomatic relations with other nations such as Egypt, Africa, and the West. Under the rule of the Tang, women could be seen wearing low-cut dresses with their exposed cleavage on the streets. What was most fashionable at this point in time was for women to bare their décolletage and even the tops of their bosom! Sounds familiar? ;-) This resulted in an increasing foreign influence on the Tang culture, especially where fashion is concerned.


In contrast to the Tang dynasty, women during the Qin dynasty (221 BCE - 207 BCE) were more conservative. Not only did they keep to themselves, but they also had limited exposure to foreign influences and a strict governance. Women wore one-piece dresses with large and billowing sleeves, strictly covering their body parts. As we have noted in our previous blog post and in class 14, the Qin dynasty was one of strict internal reforms in the political, economic and military aspects. In order to unify China, Emperor Qin Shi Huang redirected individual power to one centralised authority. Foreign influences were thus limited as reverence for the state emperor was highly emphasised. Therefore, fashion trends during the Qin dynasty were a reflection of the rigidity and isolated rule of the country at that time, with little or no foreign influence.


Finally, in the Yuan dynasty (1271 CE - 1368 CE), when the Mongols established its ruling, conservative fashion styles made a comeback from the liberal clothing trends seen in the Tang dynasty. According to class 22 on the Mongols, they incorporated and assimilated with the culture of their conquered territories. Thus, they maintained a healthy balance between conservative and revealing clothing due to the encouragement of foreign trade from the Mongols (but never to the extent of the Tang dynasty). Mongol fashion styles became dominant, and clothing consisted mainly of fur and leather materials rather than silk and cotton. Women wore mostly two or more gowns that were long and loose with wide sleeves and narrow cuffs (to show successive layers of cloth, so one definitely has to know their way around harmonising colours!). Thus, it is evident that foreign influence had a profound impact in introducing variations to traditional Chinese clothing, but not to the extent of the Tang dynasty.


Next, embark on this journey with us as we present to you our video “Show Some Skin Ah!” which provides a more in-depth narration of the evolution of traditional Chinese women clothing over the dynasties.



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Fan, C, S. (2016). Culture, Institution, and Development in China: The economics of national character. Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-1138185715. Retrieved from,+Institution,+and+Development+in+China:+The+economics+of&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjDsvHZh7XTAhUIOI8KHc2lB9IQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Fang, H. (2015). Traditional Chinese Folk Customs (The Rising Dragon) (The Chinese Way). Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-1443872607

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Graying, A, C. (2007). The Form of Things: Essays on Life, Ideas and Liberty. W&N.  ISBN-13: 978-0753822234. Retrieved from,+Ideas+and+Liberty&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKpZqIhrXTAhVHsY8KHVMdBSMQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Sun, M. (2002). Chinese Fashions. Courier Corporation. Retrieved from:

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Media References

Brian Jeffery Beggerly, IMG_5717 (December 2006) (CC BY 2.0)

Drude, N. (2015). Chinese Garden. On Royalty Free Production Music [MP3]. Location: Germany. (CC BY 3.0)

Jack Lee, In the Mood for Cheongsam: Modernity and Singapore Women (6 April 2012) (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Kevin Poh, Beauty of Tang Dynasty Dance (2 May 2009) (CC BY 2.0)

Rashid al-Din, Mongol archers, (2005) (Public Domain)

Yuan, Zhongyi, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China (circa 1850) (Public Domain)



Wave of China

Wave of China

Ever wondered how China became such a powerful and influential civilisation? Scholars argue that China's involvement in other civilisations has contributed to its success since 500 BCE. In the past, China’s neighboring civilisations benefitted largely from its relations with China, where the spread of Chinese culture led to the progress and the organization of some Asian Civilisations. Such relations include trade, military forces and political relations.


Disney-fied, or Disney-tried? -- Historically Inaccurate Movies: Disney's Mulan

Disney-fied, or Disney-tried? -- Historically Inaccurate Movies: Disney's Mulan

Quick! Think of one thing you remember from Disney's Mulan!

Maybe you thought of the dragon, Mushu. Maybe you started singing along to "Dark Side of the Moon" or "A Girl Worth Fighting For". You might even have been imagining the tense battle scenes in the Imperial City!

But, have you ever stopped to think about how accurate Disney portrayed Mulan? After all, China has such a complex and diverse background. In this blog post, we will ruin (one of) your favourite Disney movies by checking it against History.

After Death (Chinese Vs Roman)

Interested in knowing how the funeral processes took place in China and Rome? Well, you came to the right place. Both the Romans and Chinese have placed great importance to the dead. Both have taken great precautions to make the dead’s passage to the underworld as easy and safe as possible. To ensure, that the spirits of the dead ones do not wander endlessly looking for the underworld or be lost. It is interesting to compare how each of these rituals was important for them as much as it is important today. 

Click on us and see what else you can find!

Who Run the World? GIRLS!

Who Run the World? GIRLS!

Throughout the ages, women were often considered the lesser of the two genders, often being discriminated because of their in-born traits. They tended to be physically weaker, more emotional and more susceptible to physical and biological changes like menstruation and pregnancy. All these were traits which men took to be a sign that the females were an inferior gender which should not be tasked with important duties due to their weakness. As such, they were destined to care for the  domestic well-being, ensuring harmony and happiness within the family unit. In fact, most societies were patriarchal, where such unjust laws dictated by the men.

Women in China were treated no differently, with many historical texts showing strong evidence of sexism in Ancient China. In fact, the Chinese women not only had little to nothing to accomplish, her most important duty would be marry and then to remain loyal and serve her husband to the best of her abilities. 

On top of our discussion on the many ways that these women were discriminated against, we decided to look into the causes of such sexism within Ancient China, the roles and influences that some women had back then, as well as a short summary of the treatment of women in Ancient China.



Cao Cao was the Prime Minister of the largest and most powerful Kingdom of Wei. He set out to conquer the other Northern Territories under the name of Emperor Xian. The way that Cao Cao was viewed throughout history was very much based on the changes he brought about to China. However, this view did not stay constant and varied drastically across different time periods.

The Ascend to Man's Best Friend

Ever heard of the saying that “Dogs are Man's Best Friend”? Well, the first known account of that statement was first made by Fredrick II, King of Prussia in 1789. Enough about him, let us focus on the tale at hand. Dogs have been part of human history that date back to at least 13,000 BCE (With some researchers speculating that the dogs may have dated back to 100,000 years ago). Dogs were seen as protectors of agriculture, hunting companions, as well as many other variations throughout different cultures and time periods. Loyalty to the us homo-sapiens was a key trait that kept our bond strong, so strong that even part of our anatomy - our canines, resemble their name. This led to the Canis Familiaris (Scientific name for dogs) being featured in many myths and legends that have withstood the test of time.

Historical dog pictures are still dog pictures. And what better way to view them than Tumblr.

Our Tumblr Page:

For those of you out there who really dig history and love dogs, we hope you loved the article as much as dogs love you. Please do not hesitate to share your experiences with dogs in the comments below. Stay pawsome.



If you are interested in where to find specific information from our blogpost, you may view the url links below:

Interesting Related Videos that inspired this post to be created:

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Ancient China (2070 - 1600 BCE)

Ancient Greece and Rome (800-500 BCE),_from_Pydna.jpg,_San_Francisco).jpg

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Hope you enjoyed the post.


(Drop Dead) Beautiful

We bet you’ve in one way or another heard of the four great beauties of Ancient China. If you love Chinese drama series, then their names definitely won’t sound foreign to you at all. Namely Xi Shi, Wang ZhaoJun, Diao Chan and Yang Guifei, these pretty little faces were famous for their alluring beauty. We know, we know… We always think that the roles of women in the past were very limited. But these beauties were really not your typical unprivileged women who held no power and authority. They were the very personification of the phrase “with great beauty comes great responsibility”. Because they were blessed with great beauty, all the four of them had a part to play in political matters. Check out our magazine by clicking on the link below to find out more their stories and how they were involved in politics! We hope you’ll enjoy reading our magazine as much as we had fun doing it! :) CLICK HERE: BELLEZZA SPRING ISSUE #21


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Dong Mei Xu, Heroines of the Everlasting Tales: A comparative study.

Harrassowitz Verlag, From Skin to Heart: Perceptions of Emotions and Bodily Sensations in Traditional Chinese Culture.

Kimberly Besio, Gender, Loyalty, And the Reproduction of the Wang ZhaoJun Legend: Some Social Ramifications of Drama in the Late Ming, January 1997.

ChinaCulture, Xishi.

ChinaCulture, Yang Guifei.

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GBTIMES, Historical profile: Diao Chan, 16th January 2013.

GBTIMES, Xi Shi: A timeless beauty with big feet, 15th January 2013.

GENI RAITISOJA, Yang Guifei: her beauty brought down a dynasty, 11th August 2006.

HaiWang Yuan, Xi Shi, 4th October 2003

HaiWang Yuan, Wang Zhaojun, 3rd October 2003.

HaiWang Yuan, Diao Chan, 3rd October 2003.

HaiWang Yuan, The Favored Imperial Concubine, 15th March 2006.

Image credits

4 Beauty Wang Zhaojun, a-thammasak [CC BY-NC-SA 3.0]

The Story of Xi Shi, a-thammasak [CC BY-NC 3.0]

중국의 4대 미인, namuwiki, [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 KR]

Diao Chan (貂蝉) — A Beauty in Three Kingdoms and Her Mysterious Ending, Wenqing Peng, [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0]

Chinese historical woman famous for her beauty and elegance, Diao Chan, IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd., Getty images.

Chinese historical woman was famous for her beauty, Xi Shi, IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd., Getty images.

Wang Zhaojun, a Chinese historical beauty, who was famous for her sacrifice to the peaceful political marriage between China and the Xiongnu in Han Dynasty, IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd., Getty images.

Chinese historical beauty concubine in Tang Dynasty, Yang Kwei Fei, IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd., Getty images.

Four Great Chinese Beauties (2), Zantam03, [CC-BY-SA]

Xi Shi (4 Beauties), Zantam03, [CC-BY-SA]

Wang Zhaojun (4 Beauties), Zantam03, [CC-BY-SA]

Diao Chan (4 Beauties), Zantam03, [CC-BY-SA]

Yang Guifei (4 Beauties), Zantam03, [CC-BY-SA]