Chinese clothing is ancient and modern, worn by the Chinese people. It has varied by region and time, and is recorded by the artifacts and arts of Chinese cultur. The articles of clothing of past dynasties are one chapter of Chinese long history and culture. They are not only the reflection of the politics and economy of a given society, but also the great contributions for world civilization. An outstanding characteristic of traditional Chinese clothing is not only an external expression of elegance, but also an internal symbolism.
Each and every piece of traditional clothing communicates a vitality of its own. This combination of external form with internal symbolism is clearly exemplified in the pair of fighting pheasant feathers used in head wear originating in the battle wear of the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.). Two feathers of a ho bird (a type pheasant good at fighting) were inserted into the head wear of warriors of this period to symbolize a bold and warlike spirit. Darker colors were favored over lighter ones in traditional Chinese clothing, so the main color of ceremonial clothing tended to be dark while bright, elaborate tapestry designs accented. Lighter colored clothing was worn more frequently by the common people for everyday and around the house use.
The Chinese associate certain colors with specific seasons: green represents spring, red symbolizes summer, white represents autumn, and black symbolizes winter.
The Chinese are said to have a fully developed system of matching, coordinating, and contrasting colors and shades of light and dark in apparel. Today, Fashion designers use a mixture of traditional and modern ideas to create new fashions. These new fashions also incorporate age-old motifs such as guardian deities, lions, and masks of Chinese opera characters. Chinese bronze is another source of printed, woven, embroidered, and applied design for clothes. Some of the distinctive designs include dragons, phoenixes, clouds, and lightning. Motifs from traditional Chinese painting also end up in woven or printed fashion designs.