Research on Ancient Carriage and Dress

Research on ancient carriage and dress is one of the traditional research programs at the NMC. After his transfer in the early days of the People’s Republic of China to the National Museum of Chinese History, predecessor of the NMC, Shen Congwen changed the focus of his work from literature to research on antiquities. He concentrated much of his effort, given his personal interest, on research into ancient fabrics and dress. This research project was taken seriously by Premier Zhou in 1963, who instructed the National Museum of Chinese History to do its best in the compilation of the Records on Ancient Chinese Dress - its manuscript completed in late 1964. In a dozen years that followed, Shen continued his research on that basis, and in the early 1980s published A Study of Ancient Chinese Dress, a book that has since then been regarded as classic in the field of Chinese dress history. Sun Ji was transferred in 1979 to the NMC, where he wrote his book Collected Studies on Ancient Chinese Carriage and Dress. Published in 2001 and republished in 2013, this book, of far-reaching influence and great fame in the academia, looked thoroughly into ancient Chinese carriage and dress regimes, hats, belts, major changes in Chinese dress history, among other subjects, and came up with a three-stage theory on the evolution of ancient Chinese carriages - which provided corroborating evidence for the theory that ancient Chinese carriages originated indigenously.

During this period, the NMC also saw Li Zhitan and Sun Yanzhen, among others, stand out as researchers on ancient dress. During September – November 1995, the National Museum of Chinese History and Hong Kong Heritage Museum jointly held an exhibition titled “Images of Females in Chinese History”, a hand-picked collection of objects and auxiliary exhibits, which was well received by the Hong Kong audience for its elegance. Clothing research at the NMC is conducted on a continuous basis.

Full-time researcher: Zhu Yaguang, Curator