Traditional Chinese clothing Secrets of the Dragon Robes by jdo13922


									                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   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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