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Chinese Traditional Dress

Chinese Traditional Dress and its Influence 1840-1960

Chinese Traditional Dress and its Influence (1840-1960) was an exhibit curated in 2013 by Professor Yehong Wang of Wenzhou University, located in the Zhejiang province of China. She curated the exhibit in collaboration with the late Professor Charlotte Jirousek, textile expert and former curator of the CF+TC. The exhibition was displayed in the Elizabeth Schmeck Brown Gallery in the Human Ecology Building. Eight years later in 2021, the exhibit is open for public viewing through Cornell University Library's Online Exhibitions platform.

The exhibit was unique in that it included various types of Chinese traditional dress from the years 1840 to 1960. It begins with the dress of the Manchu people, a nomadic culture that was forced to dress to represent their class until the Qing government was overthrown in 1911. The exhibit then highlights the dress of Han women, who had a different style compared to the Manchu people. In the exhibit, traditional Chinese motifs and symbols are emphasized through textiles and accessories. This allows the viewer to have a more clear understanding of the items they are looking at throughout the exhibit. Chinese motifs are an integral part of the culture and often manifest in dress. The exhibit ties Chinese traditional dress to the modern western world in the final section. Western cultures have admired, borrowed, and appropriated many different Chinese motifs and silhouettes; however, the pieces differ in original meaning and are therefore distinguishable from the authentic Chinese versions. The final section of the exhibit focuses on these intersections and aesthetic cultural exchange.

The digital exhibit highlights some of the hidden treasures in the 10,000 item Cornell Fashion + Textile Collection. We hope you enjoy the journey and learn something from Professor Wang's research and curatorial work.