By Antonia Finnane

Based principally on 19th and twentieth-century representations of chinese language gown as conventional and unchanging, historians have lengthy looked style as whatever certainly Western. yet during this excellent, sumptuously illustrated publication, Antonia Finnane proves that shiny models have been an essential component of chinese language existence within the overdue imperial period, while well-to-do women and men confirmed a prepared information of what used to be updated.

Though foreigners who traveled to China within the early a long time of the 20th century got here away with the effect that chinese language costume used to be uncomplicated and monotone, the most important beneficial properties of contemporary type have been commencing to emerge, specifically in Shanghai. males in blue robes donned felt caps and leather-based sneakers, women started to put on geared up jackets and slim pants, and homespun clothing gave option to machine-woven fabric, usually made in international lands. those thoughts marked the beginning of a far-reaching vestimentary revolution that may rework the garments tradition in city and lots more and plenty of rural China over the following part century.

Through Finnane's meticulous learn, we can see how the close-fitting jacket and excessive collar of the 1911 innovative interval, the skirt and jacket-blouse of the may possibly Fourth period, and the army variety renowned within the Cultural Revolution resulted in the variegated, globalized dresser of at the present time. She brilliantly connects China's modernization and worldwide visibility with adjustments in costume, delivering a brilliant portrait of the advanced, sophisticated, and infrequently contradictory methods the folk of China have worn their state on their backs.

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38 The commentary on footbinding was informed by an idea novel to eighteenth-century Europe: that the status of women in a society was a primary index to the standard of civilisation in that society. "39 In Barrow's view, the women of antiquity had suffered a degradation "as impolitic as it is extraordinary," but the Chinese excelled even the ancients in the humiliations and restraints they imposed upon women. They deprived them of the use of their limbs and confined them indoors, or alternatively used and abused them in the fields as they might their oxen and asses.

The garment depicted here is Qing dynasty court dress {chaofu), and is distinguished from other official and common gowns by the skirt style of the lower part of the garment, a phenomenon discussed in the following chapter. The shoulder collar (pijian) may also have been in use before the Qing (see Wilson, Chinese Dress, 29). Note the horse shoe cuffs on the robe, and the style of the official hats (winter above, summer below). Fig. 3 Nineteenth-century Qing dynasty courtrobe, acquired by George ("Chinese") M o r rison presumably after the end of the dynasty in 1912.

In dress as in other respects, a society was more commonly represented by reference to its male members. John Barrow early made it plain that when he spoke of the dress of "the common people," he was speaking of the dress of men. Women were appended. More than a century later, J. Dyer 57 Montesquieu, Persian Letters, 49, 58 Goldsmith, Citizen ofthe World, Vol. I, 14. , 12. 35 WAYS O F SEEING Fig. 8 "Braiding the queue," from the collection of the Religious Tract Society. The front of the head was shaven clean, while the hair at the back was cultivated to its maximum length.

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