A Preliminary Study of Mongol Costumes in the Ming Dynasty

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 39, No. 1, 2018




A Preliminary Study of Mongol Costumes in the Ming Dynasty



Luo Wei


The Yuan dynasty was the first great unified empire founded by an ethnic minority in Chinese history. A great number of ancient sources have proven that under the Yuan, the Mongols’ distinctive costumes, expressive of their nomadic identity, exerted an influence upon Chinese fashions of the time. Even after the collapse of the Yuan, Mongol dress did not disappear but became even more popular in various forms throughout the following Ming dynasty. On the basis of examination of a large number of historical written materials, this paper makes an in-depth study of the various styles and uses of Mongol-style clothing in the Ming dynasty. It provides a panoramic survey in an attempt to outline the use and evolution of Mongol styles in the Ming and to examine some representative case studies in detail. Thus, besides discussing traditional issues in the history of clothing, such as the use, design changes and abandonment of Mongol clothing in the Ming dynasty, it initiates a series of studies from a sociological perspective, offering a preliminary study of the groups who wore Mongol-style clothing in the Ming dynasty, including their occupations, their reasons for using these costumes, and how this mode of dress influenced the social psychology of the period. It also attempts, via clothing, to discuss the changes in transitional Chinese society arising from the movement of nomadic ethnic groups in northern China to the hinterland (another question to be addressed).


Keywords: Yuan dynasty, Ming dynasty, Mongol, costumes