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  • Topic: China, Cheongsam, Chinese clothing
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  • Published : August 27, 2010
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The cheongsam is a body-hugging (modified in Shanghai) one-piece Chinese dress for women; the male version is the changshan. It is known in Mandarin Chinese as the qípáo (旗袍) Wade-Giles ch'i-p'ao, and is also known in English as a mandarin gown. The stylish and often tight-fitting cheongsam or qipao (chipao) that is most often associated with today was created in the 1920s in Shanghai and was made fashionable by socialites and upperclass women. HISTORY

When the Manchu ruled China during the Qing Dynasty, certain social strata emerged. Among them were the Banners (qí), mostly Manchu, who as a group were called Banner People (旗人pinyin: qí rén). Manchu women typically wore a one-piece dress that retrospectively came to be known as the qípáo (旗袍 or banner gown). The generic term for both the male and the female forms of Manchu dress, essentially similar garments, was chángpáo (長袍). The qipao fitted loosely and hung straight down the body, or flared slightly in an A-line.. Under the dynastic laws after 1636, all Han Chinese in the banner system were forced to wear a queue and dress in Manchurian qipao instead of traditional Han Chinese clothing (剃发易服), under penalty of death. (along with the July 1645 edict (the "haircutting order") that forced all adult Han Chinese men to shave the front of their heads and comb the remaining hair into a queue, on pain of death.) Until 1911, the changpao was required clothing for Chinese men of a certain class, but Han Chinese women continued to wear loose jacket and trousers, with an overskirt for formal occasions. Theqipao was a new fashion item for Han Chinese women when they started wearing it around 1925. The original qipao was wide and loose. It covered most of the woman's body, revealing only the head, hands, and the tips of the toes. The baggy nature of the clothing also served to conceal the figure of the wearer regardless of age. With time, though, the qipao were tailored to become more form fitting and...
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