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China

Show Some Skin AH!

freestocks.org , no title (22 June 2016). CC0 1.0.

freestocks.org, 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.

 

References: 

Chen, Y. (2014). New Modern Chinese Women and Gender Politics: The Centennial of the End of the Qing Dynasty. Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-0415841382. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=qNkABAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=New+Modern+Chinese+Women+and+Gender+Politics:+The+Centen&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjX0YD2h7XTAhVEp48KHTs5D7UQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Fagan, B, M. (1996). The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Oxford University Press. ISBN-13: 978-0195076189. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=ystMAgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Oxford+Companion+to+Archaeology&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-4aWCirXTAhVBOY8KHYoeAZsQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Fan, C, S. (2016). Culture, Institution, and Development in China: The economics of national character. Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-1138185715. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=tAe4CwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Culture,+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

Geng, Y. (2014). An Introductory Study on China's Cultural Transformation in Recent Times. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=VjsNBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA1&dq=An+Introductory+Study+on+China%27s+Cultural+Transformation+in+Recent+Times.+Springer+Berlin+Heidelberg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKvu3KhrXTAhXDM48KHUCNDisQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Graying, A, C. (2007). The Form of Things: Essays on Life, Ideas and Liberty. W&N.  ISBN-13: 978-0753822234. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=FbOSa6nmLb4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Form+of+Things:+Essays+on+Life,+Ideas+and+Liberty&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKpZqIhrXTAhVHsY8KHVMdBSMQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Hua, M. (2011). Chinese Clothing (Introductions to Chinese Culture). Cambridge University Press. ISBN-13: 978-0521186896. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=ayKNyCz0cOEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Chinese+Clothing+(Introductions+to+Chinese+Culture)&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiv0oqJh7XTAhXKNI8KHWxHBqQQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Jiu, H. (2011). Cengage Advantage Books: World History. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN-13: 978-1111345143. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=mBo-2D0TKUcC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Cengage+Advantage+Books:+World+History&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjwtLiTiLXTAhUKpY8KHUlXDfwQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Mungello, D, E. (2012). The Great Encounter of China and the West, 1500-1800. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN-13: 978-1442219762.  Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=Vs78TQ4pKKEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Great+Encounter+of+China+and+the+West,+1500-1800&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjapvathrXTAhVGuo8KHSicDZcQ6AEIHzAB#v=onepage&q&f=false

Sun, M. (2002). Chinese Fashions. Courier Corporation. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=CihQUtMhjb8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Chinese+Fashions&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj9ybinh7XTAhXEOI8KHUUmAOwQ6AEIHzAB#v=onepage&q&f=false

The Elegant Tang Dynasty Attire. (2007, December 26). Retrieved April 21, 2017, from http://chinascope.org/archives/6618/148

Yang, S. (2004). Chinese Clothing: Costumes, Adornments and Culture (Arts of China). Long River Press. ISBN-13: 978-1592650194. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=nx5JDiacrH4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Chinese+Clothing:+Costumes,+Adornments+and+Culture&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj66cO_h7XTAhXBO48KHcmEDcgQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

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.

 

The Journey of Paper

By: Darren and Theresa

Hi Guys, our interactive post will be based on Prezi presentation! It's about the invention of paper, how it was made, its spread and also its significance in different civilization when it gained the knowledge of paper production. Click this link and you'll be directed to your very own journey of paper! Enjoy! 

Cliffs are red, Wei is blue. Don't get too cocky, Or you'll get screwed by Wu and Shu

Cliffs are red, Wei is blue. Don't get too cocky, Or you'll get screwed by Wu and Shu

Throughout ancient Chinese history, many wars and battles were fought. Stories were told, legends were made, and heroes were born. But there is one story that must be told, the battle of the Red Cliffs or also known as battle of Chibi. This battle started in AD 2081, and it was one of the major contributing factors to the rise of the Three Kingdoms.

Marco! Polo! Let's Go

Marco! Polo! Let's Go

What did you do or plan to do when you're 17? Taking SAT and preparing for college. Moving out of your parents home and start working. How's about not doing any of that, leave everything behind and go on a trip to the other side of the world that you have no idea of? To most of us, it seem like a crazy and reckless idea. However, it was exactly what Marco Polo did when he was 17 years old. Marco Polo left Venice, his homeland, to go on an adventure of his life with his father and uncle, whom he just met for two years. He is a great example of the word "YOLO".

Marco's trip was long and full of magnificent details. To learn where did he go,who did he met, and what was happening after the trip, please click the link below.

EXCUSE ME DISEASE RIDDEN SILK MERCHANT, HAVE YOU HEARD OF BUDDHA?

EXCUSE ME DISEASE RIDDEN SILK MERCHANT, HAVE YOU HEARD OF BUDDHA?

Hey there! It's us again, Steven, Isaiah and Solomon (SIS). Our second blog post would be on the intriguing topic of The Silk Road! No, not the popular online game, nor the drug-dealing, black market websites that pollute the Internet in the 21st Century, but the ancient Silk Road!

Good Morning, Brew-Tea-Ful!

Good Morning, Brew-Tea-Ful!

A step into a Chinese restaurant and we are grandly whisked to round dining tables with a serving turntable that sits atop. “What kind of tea would you like to order?” asks the pretty waitress within five minutes of being seated in the restaurants. “We have jasmine tea, chrysanthemum tea, china tea, Pu-er’ tea”, rattles the waitress.  This situation is surely a common encounter by most of us when we patronise a Chinese restaurant. What happens after this would be a cup of piping hot and freshly brewed Chinese tea, served to the dining table. Tea leaves swirl gracefully in the cup of hot water boiled with precision. Other than just being a comforting and warm companion when we dine in a Chinese restaurant, this seemingly simple cup of tea possesses many centuries of traditions and numerous functions.

CAO CAO: THE 'CROOK' THAT CHANGED CHINA

CAO CAO: THE 'CROOK' THAT CHANGED 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.

Dead Qin Shi Huang takes on the Twittersphere!

Editorial Note: Images are currently missing from this post due to the change from Wordpress (the site on which this was originally published) to Squarespace. Images will be reattached by January 2017.

The title says it all. One of the craziest, most powerful rulers in the History of China tries his hand at micro-blogging in his..... tomb. 7 days after his death (10 Sept, 210 BCE), Qin Shi Huang starts tweeting and freaking out as he finds out... his worst fear has come true - he has died.

Qin Shi Huang had an intense fear of dying and was obsessed with searching for the fabled Elixir of Life. He wanted to live forever (hence, the corny 4eva in his twitter name haha). This was one of his weaknesses because it was so easy for him to fall prey to anyone who promised they had the secret to the Elixir of life.

Most of the potions and pills his doctors and alchemists created contained "mercury" - which would cause serious eurological malfunctions. He is believed to have died from mercury poisoning. Eek, looks like this "Elixir of Life" ironically shortened his life :(

The Ancient Chinese believe that the Mandate of Heaven is bestowed upon emperors - this gave them the right to rule over the people and the sacred Mandate of Heaven was given based on their ability to rule wisely and well.

About a year before Qin Shi Huang's death, a large meteor fell from the sky. This didn't bode well for Qin Shi Huang, it was an ominous sign. Qin Shi Huang, the tyrant, had his fair share of haters and someone etched "The First Emperor will die and his land will be divided." Many people saw this as a sign that Qin Shi Huang has lost the Mandate of Heaven.

Qin Shi Huang then destroyed the meteor and pounded it into powder and because he was unable to find the person who wrote the words, he killed every man in the vicinity.

Author's Thoughts: I find it so strange and spooky that there are always "omens" before someone dies. When I was doing my research for post 2, where I wrote on the death of Julius Caesar, there were some scary omens too! On the day he was assassinated, Caesar’s horses wept, a bird flew into the Theater of Pompey with a sprig of laurel but was eaten by a larger bird, Calpurnia had a dream of him bleeding to death And someone warned him to beware of danger no later than the Ides of March. Ahhhh! Scary. I wonder what I will encounter just before I die.

As he got older, he grew more paranoid and worried about his death. Qin Shi Huang built a huge tomb for himself, with 8,000 unique, life-sized soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. There were also officials and his entertainers. These figures were made to resemble the ones he had in real life! Poor Emperor even built rivers of Mercury (his Elixir of Life remember?), thinking it would keep him immortal when he rose again. This army was to ensure that when he became immortal, he would still have his strong army and trusty officials with him. In the tomb, there were replicas of his palaces too. Man... he really did not know how to let go.

About 2 millenniums later, on the 29th of Mar 1974, farmers digging a well found this huge tomb! Historians and archaeologists were all so intrigued and they excavated the site to search for more. However, they found that the paint on these soldiers were slowly flaking and fading off once they were exposed to the dry air...  hence, they decided not to open Qin Shi Huang's tomb in fear that they may not be able to preserve the artifacts.

Our fearful Emperor is left in his tomb, lonely and frustrated. But I guess he don't have to worry about being forgotten, or not being immortal. More than 2,000 years later, his legacy still lives on.

References:

Qin Shi Huang, First Emperor of China, Asian History

Terracotta Army, Wikipedia

The fake tweets were made from http://simitator.com/generator/twitter/tweet

Qin Shi Huang's picture on his Twitter profile is taken from https://zanedashchina.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/qin-shi-huangdi-the-emperor/

The picture Qin Shi Huang tweeted is By Jmhullot - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40128526