2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Costumes and Customs: The Vogue and Opinion on

Luxury Clothes of Ordinary People in Late Ming China

Li-yueh Lin

Department of History, National Taiwan Normal University

The  costume system in the early Ming inherited from Chinese ritual tradition, which aimed at distinguishing social status and presenting  Chinese costume heritage, in order to enhance the identity of Han Chinese culture. However, after the mid-Ming, there was a gradual tendency towards sumptuous dressing. People looked for greater variety and richness, especially for women’s dresses and ornaments. This vogue was quite different from that of the earier period. Therefore, many scholars of the late Ming condemned the taste for sumptuous and colorful clothes as defying the regulation of etiquette and called it the fu-yao. Only a few of them mentioned that economic conditions are of considerable importance to the evolution of fashion during this period, To be contrary, most of them focused their traditional thought on the relation between Yin and Yang or Heaven and People. Although they were seldom concerned with material and aesthetic factors of their times, and their recognition appeared a striking contrast with the various models of folk costumes, the discussion on the fu-yao still implied a significant meaning from the viewpoint of ritual and cultural consiousness.


Key Words: late Ming, ritual system, costume culture, social vogue, the fu-yao