By Antonia Finnane
Based principally on 19th and twentieth-century representations of chinese language gown as conventional and unchanging, historians have lengthy looked model as anything specifically Western. yet during this superb, sumptuously illustrated booklet, Antonia Finnane proves that bright models have been an essential component of chinese language lifestyles within the overdue imperial period, whilst well-to-do women and men confirmed a willing knowledge of what was once up to date.
Though foreigners who traveled to China within the early many years of the 20 th century got here away with the effect that chinese language gown was once basic and monotone, the most important beneficial properties of contemporary style have been commencing to emerge, specially in Shanghai. males in blue robes donned felt caps and leather-based footwear, women started to put on equipped jackets and slim pants, and homespun clothing gave solution to machine-woven textile, frequently made in overseas lands. those techniques marked the beginning of a far-reaching vestimentary revolution that will remodel the garments tradition in city and lots more and plenty of rural China over the following part century.
Through Finnane's meticulous study, we will see how the close-fitting jacket and excessive collar of the 1911 progressive interval, the skirt and jacket-blouse of the may perhaps Fourth period, and the army type well known within the Cultural Revolution ended in the variegated, globalized cloth wardrobe of this present day. She brilliantly connects China's modernization and worldwide visibility with alterations in costume, providing a shiny portrait of the complicated, refined, and infrequently contradictory methods the folk of China have worn their kingdom on their backs.
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Extra resources for Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation
A n o t h e r is wearing a very stylish qipao of classical cut, which became m o d i s h in the 1920s. " I n fact the sisters' clothes are decidedly m o d e r n . T o describe t h e m as "traditional" is in effect to suggest t h a t Chinese culture lacked the impulse for or experience of fashion. A m o n g W e s t e r n observers in early t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y C h i n a , Ida Pruitt was unusually well-attuned to the nuances of Chinese dress. W h e n she first m e t old M a d a m Yin, the subject of one of her two famous books, she saw that: Her clothes were cut with great style and distinction.
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.
31 The early missionaries almost startle the modern reader with their matter-of-fact presentation of the practice. " 32 Cruz, "Treatise," 149. 33 Ricci, China in the Sixteenth Century, 77. 34 Ebrey, on the basis of a much broader survey than has been conducted in the present book, identifies a "rough chronology" of ways of talking about footbinding, and concludes that "progress in understanding the practice was slow" ("Gender and Sinology," 25). To imagine the possibility of progress on this issue is to suppose a degree of epistemological continuity over this whole period, which is clearly at variance with the argument being developed here.
Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation by Antonia Finnane