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Unwrapping a culture of clothing and costume

CHINA has a long history of civilization but its rich and ancient heritage of clothing records uniquely the progress of politics, culture and art through history. Liang Yiwen looks through a special museum.

he Shanghai Museum of Textile and Costume in Donghua University offers visitors a magnificent tapestry of China's textile and costume history with informative archives, rich collections, vivid displays and exciting interactions.

Spread over 6,700 square meters, the museum is divided into four pavilions, displaying the clothing of ancient times, the modern period, minority groups and advanced textile technology.

The Popular Science Pavilion, on the ground floor, displays common textiles, including fiber, yarn and fabric, and the technologies involved in dyeing and finishing and the computerized embroidery of modern clothing.

This section invites visitors to make real contact with textiles and clothing and enjoy the high-tech demonstrateons and interactive programs.

Textile and costume play vital roles in the history of human civilization. And as China is a nation with a long history of civilization, its rich and ancient heritage of clothing records, in a unique perspective, the progress of politics, culture and art through history. After experiencing the high technology involved in modern clothing,

visitors can see ancient China's textiles and clothing on the second floor with a varied collection of photographs and costumes.

Ancient China's textile technology led the world for more than 2,000 years. Over that time, several technical inventions and achievements happened, contributing a great deal to ancient Chinese socioeconomic development and the world's textile technologies - think about mulberry planting, silkworm breeding, spinning for looms, plant and mineral pigments, dyeing and finishing. The third floor features two pavilions showcasing clothes from modern period of China and the costumes of minority groups.

In the modern period of China, including the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and the Republic of China (1912-1949), China's traditional weaving techniques and intricate ornate costume systems were challenged by Western fabrics and patterns thus engendering the transition from traditional to modern styles.

Visitors can examine collections of official robes, cheongsams (qipao), bound feet shoes and children's clothing representing and reflecting this transition.

"All the clothes on display in this section are real and not copies," says Bao Mingxin, professor of the Clothing Institution at Donghua University and one of the major curators of the museum. China is a multi-ethnic nation and endowed with a rich textile and costume heritage with distinct characteristics for every ethnic group.

The Ethnic Minorities Exhibition displays the textile technologies and the dress culture of some ethnic minorities with clothing collections, pictures and multimedia.

Ethnic minorities and the Han ethnic group have influenced each other with textile technologies and patterns. The costumes of some ethnic minorities are known for their diversity of color, reflecting historical, cultural and ethnic characteristics as well as forming a precious legacy of cultural anthropology. "Many international fashion designers come here from time to time to look for inspiration," says Bao.

Address: 1882 Yan'an Rd W.
Opening hours: 9am-4:30pm (closed on
Fridays and Sundays)
Admission: Free
Tel: 6237-3919, 6237-3509


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