Dance show recreates style of Tang Dynasty

By / 03-25-2021 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Mannequins in Tang costumes showcased at an exhibition in the National Museum of China in 2021 Photo: Ren Guanhong/CSST

Blending AR technology, the dance show Night Banquet in Tang Dynasty Palace on Henan TV for the 2021 Spring Festival gala offered the audience a visual tour of the Tang Dynasty (618—907), as the dancers represented female musicians and dancers depicted on Tang tri-colored pottery.

In addition to the excellent dance, the dancers’ extraordinary costumes and make-up are also worthy of attention, as they reveal the elaborate fashions and tastes of the Tang Dynasty. In the show, the dancers wore padded clothing and put cotton in their mouths to better represent full-figured Tang women. During the heyday of the Tang era, roughly the reign of Wu Zetian and Emperor Xuanzong from the year 690 to 756, a voluptuous body represented the ideal of feminine beauty, evidenced by a large number of unearthed female pottery figurines with fuller figures. 
In the show, dancers dressed in green, red and yellow, a classic combination of colors from Tang tri-color pottery. In general, Tang women’s dresses can be classified into three categories. Qixiong ruqun is a representative costume of the Tang Dynasty. This traditional attire consists of a separated upper garment (ru) and a wrap-around dress (qun) tied above the breasts, worn with short upper garment. In the show the dancers wore qixiong ruqun. During the heyday of the Tang era, a period with a prosperous economy and relatively open social fashion, women tended to open up their collars to expose cleavage, which was full of the spirit of ideological emancipation at the time.
The other two categories were hufu and male garments. The Tang Empire was known for its intensive cultural exchange with foreign civilizations. Hufu, a clothing style featuring narrow sleeves and tight-fitting garments from Central and Western Asia, was quite popular among Tang ladies. The “boyfriend” trend that is popular today was a style first favored by Tang women. Paintings such as “Lady of Guoguo on a Spring Outing” by Tang painter Zhang Xuan, depicted several women dressed in men’s riding garments for an outing. This might be a symbol of the Tang ladies’ carefree spirit.