CHINA CULTURE 13 SEPTEMBER 17 - 23, 2008 Traditional Chinese clothing: Secrets of the Dragon Robes to do the gold embroideries. Robes fit for an emperor also Mysterious Chinese bring good luck to the people A robe for every occasion The imperial wardrobe dur- ing the Qing Dynasty includ- Characters (5): Shan JUEXIAO ZHANG ed gowns and robes of all kinds. There were robes for celebrations, special robes EPOCH TIMES GERMANY STAFF Curved sleeves and heavy for ceremonial occasions, collars travel clothes and clothes The Chinese pictograph thinking of himself. The imperial wardrobe owes for bad weather as well as (shàn) is comprised of the Buddhism considers its curved horseshoe-shaped clothes for everyday use ideogram (yáng) and others’ sufferings more sleeves and separate, heavy within private apartments (yán), where signifies a important than one’s own. An old Chinese proverb collars to Manchu traditions. and outdoor areas. sheep and means “that Human existence alone says that the reign of every Since the Manchu used to According to the demands which is spoken”, or simply means suffering; humans Emperor starts when he make their living by hunting of the weather, clothes were “word”. are restrained by the physi- dons his new robes. The in the northeastern climes, either lined or unlined and A sheep in ancient Chi- cal body and have to endure imperial robes of the last they had to be protected from made from silk, leather or na was a fixture in every old age, illness and death. Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) the cold. They wore long, cotton. The colours were proper household. Because By constantly raising lend legitimacy to this prov- curved sleeves which could chosen to perfect the impe- of its obedience it was an standards of conduct and erb. be placed over the hands rial wardrobe. Some of the especially favourite house assimilating to compassion, Clothing was seen as a and the heavy, separate col- colours reserved for the pet. A sheep always bleats, Buddhists hope to bring an status symbol throughout lar was also meant to protect Emperor were bright yellow, whether people treat it well end to earthly suffering. many of the ancient dynas- hunters from the cold during red, blue and light blue. or mistreat it. That is, a The opposite of is ties and was the mark of an long rides. Yellow was reserved characteristic of sheep is portrayed in the symbol individual’s position in soci- In the end, however, the mostly as a colour for cel- to react kindly under any (è) meaning malice. ety. For example, the fur of a sleeves turned out to be a ebrations. The other three circumstance. The Chi- is composed of the two black fox and the colour yel- hindrance to everyday life colours were worn during nese therefore assigned the pictographs (xin) heart low were reserved for high at the imperial court. Court ceremonial days of sacrifice pictograph character to or mind and (yà) weak- level officials and members officials kept them rolled up within the three major tem- “kindness”. ness or inferiority. The of the imperial family. most of the time and only ples: the Emperor wore blue Many religions, Bud- combination therefore sig- The general public were rolled them down when they at the Temple of Heaven, red dhism included, consider nifies “weak mind”. Ancient not allowed to own or wear had to greet someone new. at the Temple of the Sun and compassion one of the major Chinese considered malice such clothes, but they were This habit, started by the light blue at the Temple of the tenets of their belief system. a sign of a weakness of the allowed to sell them. Any- Emperor and his officials, Moon. With every robe, the It could be considered as mind. one found violating this was eventually taken up by Emperor also wore a match- empathy for one’s fellow By contrast, those who rule was subject to harsh everyone. Thus, it became ing belt and hat. man. A Buddhist recognises demonstrate compas- punishment, even the death a ritual of the Chinese peo- The renowned Dragon other people’s sufferings sion show their true inner penalty. ple to roll their sleeves up Robes were embroidered and attempts to alleviate strength, in spite of those The Qing Dynasty was and down when greeting a with golden dragons. They them. That means he must who might berate or humili- brought to birth when the stranger. were gowns for special cel- think of others first before ate them. Manchu (horsemen from ebrations, and the Emperor the northeast) conquered The most elaborate gown on wore them only on auspi- the Chinese Empire’s Ming earth cious feast days. Dynasty in 1644. However, Before any gown was allowed The colour yellow was in terms of culture, tradi- to touch the body of a Chi- worn on festive occasions, tion, customs and science nese Emperor of the Qing whereas the other three col- the Manchu had much to Dynasty, it required two- ours were worn on days of learn from the highly devel- and-a-half years of labour sacrifice. oped Chinese. at the hands of the court A simple ceremonial robe They adopted not only tailors. The patterns and cuts was worn on all other festive the advanced system of were developed in a special occasions such as weddings, state officialdom but also tailor’s shop in the palace days of sacrifice and the New back, one covering the breast (qúnshan) – the mountain, Emperor’s decisiveness and Chinese ideograms, rituals, and had to be approved by Year. of each of the top and bottom symbolising protection boldness and (fú) – anoth- customs, ideology and even the Emperor and the highest garments; the last four drag- of the Emperor’s regency er embroidery rendered in religion. After the conquest, imperial officials. Then, the The 12 patterns of the Drag- ons decorated the bottom of from all four directions; black and green that was whilst the Manchu admired patterns were passed to the on Robes the imperial robes. (huàchóng) – the insect, another symbol for honesty. Chinese culture, they also silk manufacturers. When The Emperor’s gowns were The dragon robe was not standing for the Emperor’s Another symbol on the retained pride in their own the fabric was ready, it was loaded with numerous orna- simply meant to be an orna- wisdom; (zongyí) – the Emperor’s robes was a red bat roots. cut by another artisan then ments and hidden symbolism ment for the Emperor; it cup of wine, standing for which is a homophone of the Before they became set- passed onto a third to sew it for good luck, yet a dragon’s was also supposed to bring honesty, loyalty and piety; character meaning “a verita- tlers, travelling clothes together and finally to yet image dominated each impe- good luck to the people. (zao) – aquatic grasses, ble deluge of good luck”. were the most important of another to embroider it. rial costume. As an impor- Apart from the dragons, standing for purity; Undergarments featured the Manchu possessions. Only the finest threads tant element of Confucian- eleven other symbols for (huo) – fire, standing for his the oceans and mountain They consisted mostly of were used for the embroider- ism the dragon symbolised good luck were featured: honesty; (fenmi) – rice ranges of the world because animal skins, retaining the ies – some were even made the Emperor’s power. (rì) – sun, (yuè) – moon, symbolising wealth; (fu) in Chinese tradition the complete shape of the dead from real gold. The Emperor A Dragon Robe contained (xingchén) – stars, as – a special embroidery ren- Emperor was regarded as animal to maximise the use employed 500 artisans for nine dragons, one of them on the symbol for three bril- dered in black and white, the “son of heaven” who of the raw material. the stitching and another 40 each shoulder, another on the liant sources of light; which was a symbol for the rules the whole world. zontal strokes must have a are still undamaged and are ZHONGWEN – Learning Chinese flourish at the end, called being considered fine mod- a “bird tail”. However, no els for large characters and Li Shu Script two horizontal strokes in engraved in the Li Shu style. one character are permit- It is said that the Li Shu ( time. So he reformed it dur- ted to have bird tails. This is ) script was invented by ing his time in prison. The referred to as, “no two bird Cheng Miao ( ) of the Qin other story continues that he tails will fly together” – Dynasty. He was unlucky actually blamed his prison Further, the bird tail enough to have offended the sentence on the Seal Script should always appear at the first Qin Emperor and was and decided to simplify and bottom of a character that predictably thrown into Yun modify it to make it simpler includes more than two hor- Yang ( )prison, where he to write. It took him years to izontal strokes, except in the lay brooding for ten years. amend the 3,000 characters case where the top stroke is Accounts vary on the par- that are now known as Li longer. And of course, there ticular circumstances of his Shu (the character “li” may are exceptions where char- offence. It is known that the refer to slaves or prisoners), acters can have more than first Emperor of Qin, Qin which constitute a more one bird tail. There are rules Shihuang ( ), was a convenient style to use. about the alignment of char- brutal tyrant and an easy This was the third his- acters, the spacing between man to offend. He com- toric reform of the Chinese them and so on. There are manded Cheng Miao to copy writing style. When the also, strictly speaking, three out a huge amount of work Emperor saw this amazing forms of Li Shu. Even so, Li overnight and when Cheng achievement, Cheng was set Shu is perhaps the easiest failed, he was thrown into free and promoted to a high script to learn. It is simple, jail. governmental rank. The new elegant and beautiful. One story omits this script was promoted and See the picture opposite. detail and says that in popularised and it saved a This is the Diamond Sutra prison, Cheng recalled that great deal of time over sub- engraved on Mt Tai ( when he served as a govern- sequent generations. Tai shan Jin gang), the ment official, complicated Despite its apparent sim- most famous stone engrav- administrative affairs were plicity, there are still a series ing that ever existed. It is made even more difficult by of complicated rules for how 980 characters long, each the Seal Script, the domi- the strokes are to be made. character being almost 60 nant writing form of the For example, certain hori- centimetres square. They Thousand-year-old murals found in Qinghai, China CHRIS JASUREK intact and easy to identify. that the relic was made in the by Bhiksu Baguo-Yexiyang.” EPOCH TIMES STAFF The master Buddha statue is ninth century AD. The writ- Through authentication, approximately 1.15 metres tall, ing is in an old Tibetan script Professor Zhou Ta established holding his palms together and used in the Tufan period of the that the Buddha statues and solemnly sitting on a lotus inscription were done by one platform with a halo surround. of the apprentices of Pad- Workers recently discovered The other two Buddha stat- masambhava, prince of then a relic consisting of ancient ues, standing on either side of Wuzhangna (now Afghani- Tibetan Buddhist stone inscrip- the master Buddha statue, are stan), Guru Rinpoche or “The tions, a mural and Tibetan about 1.2 metres tall, wearing Lotus Born” while he was writing in Qilian County, a kasayas, and also pressing propagating Buddhism in the Tibetan Autonomous Region their palms together. Qilian area. of Qinghai province, China. The three statues appear The three Experts consider the relic After authentication, the calm and serene, each with found in Ebao Town to be one experts said a senior Tibetan a fazhuang (religious ban- Buddha statues of the oldest historic Buddhist Buddhist monk who was prop- ner) hanging above its head stone inscriptions found in agating Buddhism 1,300 years ago had created the relic. and Tibetan writing engraved below. The set is 1.7 square appear calm Qinghai province. This discov- ery further proves that early The site is located at Bian- dukou, which is about 19 kilo- metres in size and is engraved on a three metres high polished and at ease Tibetan Buddhism was prac- ticed in the Lhasa region and metres north of Ningzhang rock wall. in the Qilian mountain area. highway, Ebao Town, Qilian Professor Zhou Ta, who It also provides an important County. instructs Ph.D. candidates at ancient Tibetan Empire. The reference for Tibetan studies The mural is of three Bud- the Tibetan Graduate School, inscription says, “Long live and research on ancient Tibet- dhas, appearing to be a master Minority Research Centre at the Tibetan Emperor and all an Buddhist stone inscriptions and two apprentices, and was Lanzhou University, indicated beings – engraved and drawn and murals.
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