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Qipao

Qipao

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The cheongsam icon is a body-hugging (modified in Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

) one-piece Chinese dress
Dress
A dress is a garment consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice or with a matching bodice giving the effect of a one-piece garment.Dress may also refer to:*Clothing in general*Costume, fancy dress...

 for women; the male version is the changshan
Changshan
In traditional Chinese dress, a changshan is the male equivalent of the women's cheongsam . It is also known as a changpao or dagua ....

. It is known in Mandarin Chinese as the qípáo (旗袍; t͡ɕʰǐ pʰɑ̌ʊ̯) Wade-Giles
Wade-Giles
Wade–Giles , sometimes abbreviated Wade, is a romanization system for the Mandarin Chinese language. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Wade during the mid-19th century , and was given completed form with Herbert Giles' Chinese–English dictionary of 1892.Wade–Giles was the most...

 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
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 and was made fashionable by socialites and upperclass women.

Chinese language usage


The English loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

 cheongsam comes from chèuhngsāam, the Cantonese
Standard Cantonese
Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a language that originated in the vicinity of Canton in southern China, and is often regarded as the prestige dialect of Yue Chinese....

 pronunciation of the Shanghainese term zǎnze or zansae (長衫, 'long shirt/dress'), by which the original tight-fitting form was first known. The Shanghainese name was somewhat in contrast with usage in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects, where chángshān (the Mandarin pronunciation of 長衫) refers to an exclusively male dress (see changshan
Changshan
In traditional Chinese dress, a changshan is the male equivalent of the women's cheongsam . It is also known as a changpao or dagua ....

) and the female version is known as a qipao.

In Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, where many Shanghai tailors fled to after the communist revolution in China, the word chèuhngsāam may refer to either male or female garments. The word keipo (qipao) is either a more formal term for the female chèuhngsāam, or is used for the two-piece cheongsam variant that is popular in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. Traditionally, usage in Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 countries mostly followed the original Shanghainese usage and applies the Cantonese-language name cheongsam to a garment worn by women.

History


When the Manchu
Manchu
The Manchu people or Man are an ethnic minority of China who originated in Manchuria . During their rise in the 17th century, with the help of the Ming dynasty rebels , they came to power in China and founded the Qing Dynasty, which ruled China until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, which...

 ruled China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 during the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

, certain social strata emerged. Among them were the Banners (), mostly Manchu, who as a group were called Banner People (旗人 pinyin
Pinyin
Pinyin is the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Roman alphabet in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also often used to teach Mandarin Chinese and spell Chinese names in foreign publications and used as an input method to enter Chinese characters into...

: 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
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 in the banner system were forced to wear a queue
Queue (hairstyle)
The queue or cue is a hairstyle in which the hair is worn long and gathered up into a ponytail. It was worn traditionally by certain Native American groups and the Manchu of Manchuria.-Manchu Queue:...

 and dress in Manchurian qipao instead of traditional Han Chinese clothing
Han Chinese clothing
Hanfu or Han Chinese Clothing, also sometimes known as Hanzhuang , Huafu , and sometimes referred in English sources simply as Silk Robe or Chinese Silk Robe refers to the historical dress of the Han Chinese people, which was worn for millennia before the conquest by the Manchus and the...

 (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. The qipao 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 revealing. The modern version, which is now recognized popularly in China as the "standard" qipao, was first developed in Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 in the 1920s, partly under the influence of Beijing styles. People eagerly sought a more modernized style of dress and transformed the old qipao to suit their tastes. Slender and form fitting with a high cut, it had great differences from the traditional qipao. However, it was high-class courtesans and celebrities in the city that would make these redesigned tight fitting qipao popular at that time. In Shanghai it was first known as zansae or "long dress" (長衫 - Mandarin Chinese: chángshān, Shanghainese
Shanghainese
Shanghainese , or the Shanghai language , is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai and the surrounding region. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. Shanghainese, like other Wu dialects, is largely not mutually intelligible with other Chinese varieties...

: zansae, Cantonese: chèuhngsāam), and it is this name that survives in English as the "cheongsam".

The modernized version is noted for accentuating the figures of women, and as such was popular as a dress for high society. As Western fashions changed, the basic cheongsam design changed too, introducing high-necked sleeveless dresses, bell-like sleeves, and the black lace frothing at the hem of a ball gown. By the 1940s, cheongsam came in a wide variety of fabrics with an equal variety of accessories.

The 1949 Communist Revolution
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

 curtailed the popularity of the cheongsam and other fashions in Shanghai, but the Shanghainese emigrants and refugees brought the fashion to Hong Kong where it has remained popular. Recently there has been a revival of the Shanghainese cheongsam in Shanghai and elsewhere in Mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

; the Shanghainese style functions now mostly as a stylish party dress
Cocktail dress
A cocktail dress or cocktail gown is a woman's dress worn at cocktail parties, and semi-formal, or "black tie" occasions.The length of cocktail dresses varies depending on fashion and local custom. The length ranges from just above the knee to touching the ankle...

.

Modern use


In the 1950s, women in the workforce
Women in the workforce
Until modern industrialized times, legal and cultural practices, combined with the inertia of longstanding religious and educational traditions, had restricted women's entry and participation in the workforce. Economic dependency upon men, and consequently the poor socio-economic status of women...

 in Hong Kong started to wear more functional cheongsam made of wool, twill, and other materials. Most were tailor fitted and often came with a matching jacket. The dresses were a fusion of Chinese tradition with modern styles. Cheongsam were commonly replaced by more comfortable clothing such as sweaters, jeans, business suits and skirts. Due to its restrictive nature, it is now mainly worn as formal wear
Formal wear
Formal wear and formal dress are the general terms for clothing suitable for formal social events, such as a wedding, formal garden party or dinner, débutante cotillion, dance, or race...

 for important occasions. They are sometimes worn by politicians and film artists in Taiwan and Hong Kong. They are shown in some Chinese movies such as in the 1960s film, The World of Suzie Wong
The World of Suzie Wong (film)
The World of Suzie Wong is a 1960 British-American romantic drama film directed by Richard Quine. The screenplay by John Patrick was adapted from the stage play by Paul Osborn, which was based on the novel of the same title by Richard Mason...

, where actress Nancy Kwan
Nancy Kwan
Nancy "Ka Shen" Kwan is a Eurasian-American actress, who played a pivotal role in the acceptance of actors of Asian descent in major Hollywood film roles...

 made the cheongsam briefly fashionable in western culture. However, they are sometimes used as Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 costumes in some western countries. They are also commonly seen in beauty contests, along with swim suits. Today, cheongsam are only commonly worn day-to-day for some people—restaurant hostesses and serving staff at luxury hotels, for instance—as uniform.

Some airlines in Mainland China and Taiwan have cheongsam uniforms for their women flight attendants and ground workers such as China Airlines
China Airlines
China Airlines is both the flag carrier and the largest airline of Republic of China . Although not directly state-owned, the airline is owned by China Airlines Group, which is owned by the China Aviation Development Foundation...

, China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited is an airline headquartered on the grounds of Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Changning District, Shanghai, China. It is a major Chinese airline operating international, domestic and regional routes. Its main hubs are at Shanghai Pudong...

, Hainan Airlines
Hainan Airlines
Hainan Airlines Company Limited is an airline headquartered in the HNA Development Building in Haikou, Hainan, People's Republic of China. It is the largest privately-owned air transport company and the fourth-largest airline in terms of fleet size in the People's Republic of China...

, and Xiamen Airlines
Xiamen Airlines
Xiamen Airlines is the first privately owned airline in the People's Republic of China. Established on July 25, 1984 and based in Xiamen, it operates scheduled passenger flights out of Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport and, to a lesser extent, Fuzhou Changle International Airport...

. They are in a plain color, hemmed to just above the knee, with a close fitting wool suit jacket of the same color as the cheongsam. The workers wear stockings and low heeled shoes. Their working places are often air-conditioned so they remain cool.

A few primary schools and some secondary schools in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, especially older schools established by Christian missionaries, use a plain rimmed sky blue cotton and/or dark blue velvet (for winter) cheongsam with the metal school badge right under the stand-up collar to be closed with a metal hook and eye as the official uniform for their female students. The schools which use this standard include True Light Girls' College
True Light Girls' College
True Light Girls' College is a Christian girls' secondary school in Kowloon, Hong Kong. It was founded in 1973, to commemorate the centenary of the first True Light Middle School, which was founded in 1872 in Guangzhou by an American missionary, Ms Harriet Noyes...

, St. Paul's Co-educational College
St. Paul's Co-educational College
St. Paul's Co-educational College , is located at 33 MacDonnell Road, Mid-levels, Hong Kong....

, Heep Yunn School
Heep Yunn School
Heep Yunn School is an Anglican girls' secondary school founded in 1936. It is located in Ma Tau Wai, Kowloon, Hong Kong.Heep Yunn is notable for its students' high academic achievement...

, St. Stephen's Girls' College
St. Stephen's Girls' College
St Stephen's Girls' College , known as SSGC, which is one of the grant schools under Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui , is a girls' schools in Hong Kong. Originally on Caine Road, the school moved to its current location at Lyttelton Road, Mid-Levels, in 1923. The main building is listed as one of the...

, Ying Wa Girls' School
Ying Wa Girls' School
Ying Wa Girls' School is an HKCCCC secondary day school for girls in Central, Hong Kong. It is located at 76 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels. Total enrolment currently stands at slightly under 1,200.-History:...

, etc. These cheongsam are usually straight, with no waist shaping, and the cheongsam hem must reach mid-thigh. The cheongsam fit closely to the neck, and the stiff collar is hooked closed, despite the tropical humid and hot weather. Although the skirts have short slits, they are too narrow to allow students to walk in long strides. The seams above the slits often split when walking and are repeatedly sewed. Many schools also require underskirts to be worn with the cheongsam. The underskirt is a white cotton full slip, hemmed slightly shorter than the cheongsam, and are slit at the sides like the cheongsam, although the slits are deeper. A white cotton undershirt is often worn underneath the cheongsam. The cheongsam's length, styling, color and sleeve length varies between schools. Many students feel it an ordeal, yet it is a visible manifestation of the strict discipline that is the hallmark of prestigious secondary schools in Hong Kong and many students and their parents like that. In summer wearing this for a school day would be sweaty and un-hygienic. Some rebellious students express their dissatisfaction with this tradition by wearing their uniform with the stand-up collar intentionally left unhooked or hemmed above their knees. The Ying Wa and True Light Schools have set questionnaires to their students about uniform reforms but not passed. But Madam Lau Kam Lung Secondary School of Miu Fat Buddhist Monastery ended their cheongsam uniform in 1990 after receiving student unions suggestions.

Many waitresses in Chinese restaurants over the world wear suits and skirts but some wear cheongsam. These cheongsam (referred to as qipao in China) are long, often foot-length or floor-length. They have slits high to the waist or hip, and are usually sleeveless or have only cap sleeves. They are often made of brightly-colored silk or satin with rich Chinese embroidery. Some nightclub waitresses, ritual girls in ceremonies, and competitors in Chinese beauty competitions wear similar cheongsam uniforms. They may wear pantyhose but not an underskirt so walking shows their legs. These uniforms are considered too sexy for ordinary wear so they are worn and kept at work. The waitresses change into casual clothes before going home.

In the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, cheongsams were the uniforms for the medal bearers. They were also worn by female members of the Swedish team and of the Spanish team in the opening ceremony, with the national colors.

Similar garments


The Vietnamese
Vietnamese people
The Vietnamese people are an ethnic group originating from present-day northern Vietnam and southern China. They are the majority ethnic group of Vietnam, comprising 86% of the population as of the 1999 census, and are officially known as Kinh to distinguish them from other ethnic groups in Vietnam...

 áo dài
Áo dài
The áo dài is a Vietnamese national costume, now most commonly for women. In its current form, it is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pantaloons. The word is pronounced ow zai in the North and ow yai in the South of the country. Áo is derived from a Middle Chinese word meaning "padded coat"...

bears similarity to the cheongsam, as does the Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

an national dress.

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