Clothing is more than just a daily necessity, serving the practical functions of beating the cold and heat, resisting the wind and rain, protecting the body and covering our shame. It is also an important carrier of ancient culture, helping to distinguish between different social standings and degrees of affinity. China is known as the “Kingdom of Costume.” The development of Chinese costume culture over thousands of years not only reflects the development of ancient material and spiritual civilization, but also outlines the continuous existence of the Chinese nation.
The National Museum of China (NMC) has a wealth of cultural relics related to ancient costume in its collections. Mr. Shen Congwen and Mr. Sun Ji have done extensive work in archaeological and historical theory related to costume and accumulated a profound body of work in the study of ancient Chinese costume culture, which has played an important role in the study of ancient Chinese costume.
The NMC is dedicated to hosting the exhibition “Ancient Chinese Culture: Costume and Adornment” by making full use of its academic advantages, further exploring its collection resources and broadly connecting with fellow museums. It systematically explains the development and cultural connotations of ancient Chinese costume, so that China’s outstanding traditional culture shines with the brilliance of the times and provides rich nourishment for the development of the nation.
This exhibition is based on decades of research by Mr. Sun Ji and other scholars from the NMC. It is divided into six sections according to historical periods. A total of nearly 130 cultural relics are exhibited across the exhibition, including jades, bones, ceramics, costumes, gold and silver adornments, calligraphy and paintings, supplemented by more than 40 exhibits and close to 170 pictures and multimedia facilities. The content of this exhibition is both systematic, academic and intellectual. It not only vividly depicts the production process, aesthetic orientation and typical scenes of ancient Chinese costume, but also systematically displays the evolution of ancient Chinese costume and explains its deep social and cultural connotations. It is particularly worth mentioning that in addition to a large number of material objects that directly portray the form of ancient costume, this exhibition also contains numerous charts and 15 lifelike figures of different eras. It strives to present the overall image of ancient Chinese costume and adornment and fully demonstrate the splendid achievements of ancient Chinese material and spiritual civilization. In a sense, it can be said to be an abridged three-dimensional version of the history of ancient costume.
Ancient Chinese costume is not only the institutional representation of the dynastic social identity system as well as etiquette and laws, but also a concrete representation of the social and political structure and cultural value orientation of ancient China. It is closely related to textiles, dyeing, embroidery and other techniques, which embody the diligence, wisdom and vigorous creativity of the Chinese people. It is also a vivid portrayal of ethnic integration and cultural exchanges. All previous changes in costume have condensed the achievements of cultural exchanges and mutual learning during the period of great ethnic integration.
We sincerely hope that this exhibition can guide audiences to gain a comprehensive understanding of ancient Chinese costume culture, and a deeper understanding of the continuous development of Chinese culture in the process of inheriting traditions and engaging in exchanges and mutual learning through the medium of costume.