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THE WAISTLINE OF WOMEN'S COSTUMES IN TANG DYNASTY AND ITS AESTHETIC EFFECTS

Bao Mingxin(Department of Clothing)  
The women's costumes in Tang Dynasty were particularly important to the ancient history of Chinese costume, and had great influence on the development of clothing among neighbouring nationssuch as Japan and Korea. The waistline was the key style line of women's wear in that period. This paper deals with the different kinds of waistline of Tang dresses in order to get a better understanding of the Chinese culture related to clothing and inspiration for contemporary fashion design. The topic is approached from social psychological, historical and aesthetic points of view, wall paintings, carvings, terra-cotta figures and other Tang relics were used for visual analysis, and both ancient and modern literature were reviewed to get following conclusions: There were four types of waistline for women's costume in Tang Dynasty, they are, 1) high waistling under the bust; 2) high waistline above the bust; 3) low waistline; and 4) natural waistline. The high waistline under bust was similar to those of the European robes of Empire Style in early 19th century and dresses with features of Art Nouveau in early 20th century. It could be used to build an 8- or X-shaped silhouette, and show a healthy, sometimes strong, plump and resplendent image. It was frequently seen on those ensembles consisted of narrow-sleeved blouse, sleeveless short jacket, long scarve and long-full skirt. The waistline could bc formed by the hemline of the jacket, abelt or sash. The top of the emscmble would likely to have a low neckline showing the cleavage, and the skirt would probably be color-striped. The possible wearer could bc a lady or a dancer. The high waistline above the bust was quite a unique one. It could help to make a O-shappcd silhouette and show a heavily figured, idle but graceful image. It was likely to be found on those ensembles consisted of a wide-sleeved blouse, long silk scarve with painted motifs and long-full skirt. The possible wearer could be a lady or female attendant of high status in royal or other important families. The low waistline was mainly used for masculine robe or coat. The coat could have a round neckline and narrow sleeves, and worn with pants and boots. The belt or sash would be wrapped around the hip line to form a really low waistline. The coat could also have a high-shawl collar and be worn with Persian-styled and stripped pants, boots and leather belts. The most wearers were maids, and would show a masculine gesture, throwing out their bellies a little bit. The natural waistline was not popular during the period and could be considered as the intermediary between the high and low waistline. The different positions of waistline reflected the ideal images of women in Tang Dynasty, and were related to the relatively tolerant attitude towards women, the women's new role during the Empress Wu Period ( 684-704 ), and the androgenous fashion for women.
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