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Chinese QiPao Cheongsam Dress History

Girl's traditional Chinese dresses are called QiPaos or qi pao and is the traditional Chinese clothing. It was started to be worn during the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911 AD), which was established by the Manchu people who were from Northern China. It is now worn for formal occasions such as weddings, engagements, and on the Chinese New Year. The Ching Dynasty in also spelled Qing Dynasty. Traditionally elements include brocaded cloth, frog knots, and mandarin collars. Cheongsam is the Cantonese word, that is often used in English for QiPao. After the communist took over, wearing of the QiPao in China was seen as capitalistic during Mao's era.

After the Ching Dynasty took over, men were required to wear a queue, or a long pony tail as a mark of subservance. If the queue was cut off, this marked them as a rebel. The Ching Dynasty was overthrown in the revolution of 1911, but the QiPao was still worn in China and survived in Taiwan and Hong Kong as fashionable dress after the revolution of 1949. After the opening of China in 1976 QiPaos have again become common wear for special occasions including weddings in China! The boy's QiPaos have a Queue attached in the hat.


Traditionally Chinese Color Symbolism - Meanings for Colors

Red is the color of good luck, happiness, joy, and for brides, since it is of energy as symbolized by fire. Yellow traditionally the color used for imperial service and the first Emperor is called The Yellow Emperor. Blue is the color of immortality. Blue and Green are the symbols of Spring. Black is a color for young boys, since it's the beginning. White is the end, so it's the color of mourning, More information on Chinese Color Symbolism including pictures of examples.

Modern QiPaos

QiPaos are made out of many materials, with the high end ones made out of beads (like the one I wore for my wedding) and are often custom made. Custom made QiPao can cost up to $5000 dollars. In weddings, the bride will often have multiple QiPaos. The traditional color for weddings is Red (a good luck color in Chinese). In the movie, In The Mood For Love, the female protagonist wears beautiful QiPaos.

Further Resources on QiPaos:

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