Top Rivers in China

Ancient China Clothing

People in China generally wore tunics (like long t-shirts). Women wore long tunics down to the ground, with belts, and men wore shorter ones down to their knees. Sometimes they wore jackets over their tunics. In the winter, when it was cold, people wore padded jackets over their tunics, and sometimes pants under them.

In early China, poor people made their clothes of hemp or ramie. Rich people wore silk. Most people in China, both men and women, wore their hair long. People said that you got your hair from your parents and so it was disrespectful to cut it. During the Sui Dynasty, in the 500's AD, the emperor decided that all poor people had to wear blue or black clothes, and only rich people could wear colors. Sung Dynasty, about 1100 AD, a fashion started at the emperor's court for women to bind their feet.

 

Women thought that to be beautiful they needed little tiny feet, only about three inches long. They got these tiny feet by wrapping tight bandages around the feet of little girls, about five or six years old. The bandages were so tight they broke the girls’ toes and bent them underneath their feet and then they had to walk on them like that. The girls spent most of their time crying for two or three years and then the feet stopped hurting so much.

 

Women with bound feet couldn’t walk very well at all, and when they had to work in the fields often they would crawl. Some of the earliest versions of the story of Cinderella come from Sung Dynasty China. In these versions, the point of the story is that the Prince loves Cinderella because she has the smallest feet of any girl in the kingdom, so the slipper will only fit her. To see a video of bound feet, click here: