Wednesday, July 15, 2015


When I was doing research for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate one of the areas I found maddening was textiles and clothing. This has just never been my strong suit in history, mainly because I am more interested in political and social history. For my second internship I had to help catalog 18th century textiles and my eyes glazed over instantly. I admire people who can really get into this stuff (whether it is swords, shoes or cabinets) but I've just never been that into the material artifacts of history. So with any project this is always the part I hate the most. And in this instance I it was especially hard because tracking down reliable and helpful sources was difficult (reliable isn't usually much of a problem, it is the second part that is a challenge). I ended up finding a few sources and I also got a hand from someone who knew a bit more about them than myself. What surprised me was which sources I found most helpful. These three books proved unexpectedly useful. 

The Coloring Book
Chinese Fashions by Ming-Ju Sun is a coloring book and part of a regular series by Dover. The author has a background in fashion and the illustrations are incredibly helpful. It groups illustrations by period, beginning with the Tang Dynasty and ending in the Republican Period. The illustrations are quite detailed and provide brief explanatory text. 

The Introductions Series
Chinese Clothing by Hua Mei is a history of chinese clothing through the ages. It is part of the Introduction to Chinese Culture series by Cambridge University Press. There are quite a few good books in this series, all fairly compact and to the point but still filled with a lot of information. This one is about 150 pages and covers everything from clothes to hairstyles and make-up. 

The Tiny Reference Book
Chinese Clothing: Costumes, Adornments and Culture is a compact 80-page reference guide to Chinese clothing written by Sharing Yang. It is part of the Arts of China series. There is a brief history section in the introduction but this is really more of a glossary. I found it quite useful. Most entries are the translated terms so an entry will read 'Imperial Dragon Robe' rather than 'longpao'. If you need to know the meaning of some obscure Chinese word for hat, it may not be your best source, but if you need an explanation of Chinese Robes or wire hats, it will do the job. 

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