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1,000 Years of Vietnamese Clothing by lilsuika 1,000 Years of Vietnamese Clothing by lilsuika
A follow up to the previous historical fashion timeline, this time I've separated the clothing according to dynasty and social rank from 11th to 21st centuries. The intent was to see a generalized view of how clothes changed from dynasty to dynasty. Unfortunately there wasn't enough material from Ly and Tran dynasties so I had to lump them together. The majority of historical referenced material is from the documentary "Di Tim Trang Phuc Viet", and a few are from Wikipedia and Google. Contemporary/modern clothing are from observation and/or refs from Google again.

My refs here and a collection of more refs here. I had to make a few educated guesses on colors, I hope I'm not too far off the mark...

Some notes and observations from the documentary:

Sui and Tang dynasty ruled Vietnam from 602-906 AD, hence Ly to Tran dynasty will have Sui/Tang influence in their clothing. Ming dynasty only ruled for 20 years but they took an extremely aggressive attempt to sinicize Vietnam, therefore it is no surprise to see very strong Ming clothing influence on Le dynasty folks. Nguyen dynasty appears to be a curious mix of Ming/Qing influence for royals and native styles.

Vietnamese emperors apparently dressed in Dragon Robes reminiscent to Chinese Emperors as a means to demonstrate that they were equals with China. This purportedly started with the Ly dynasty. Previous dynasties did not attempt to do so due to backlash from China. (Trinh Quang Vu, episode 5)

Generally speaking, robes reached to the feet in the Le Dynasty whereas the length of the clothes shortened considerably by the late Nguyen dynasty. (Trinh Bac, episode 17)

One of the historians (Trinh Bac, episode 17) commented that the Le Dynasty folks continued wearing Ming-styled clothing and refused to accept Qing dynasty styles. On the other hand, it was the Nguyen Dynasty who incorporated some elements of Qing Dynasty clothing into their attire. The documentary also compared and contrasted the royal clothing of Qing and Nguyen dynasties. (robes on the bottom is a comparison I did) One of the striking similarities that you can see is the colorful stripped patterns on the bottom of the robes that existed ONLY in the Qing dynasty and was emulated by the Nguyen royalty.

Due to Confucian beliefs that ones hair is a gift from ones parents and should not be damaged, it was traditional for male and females alike to grow out their hair and not cut it out of filial piety. (Chinese folk did this up until the Qing Dynasty when Chinese men were forced to shave their hair and adopt the Manchurian queue. Anyone who resisted was executed while monks were the exception from the rule.) If one wanted to cut/perm their hair (e.g. wanting a more modern haircut) they had to obtain permission from their elders and go through an ancestral ceremony. (Truong Ngoc Tuong, episode 19) Obviously this is no longer true today.

o Although to be honest... if no one cut their hair wouldnt they all look like Rapunzel?

There was an unearthed Le dynasty mummy that had 23 layers of clothing on it. Gloves were also found on the mummy. There was also boots that had strings on the back for the wearer to tie, which meant the boots weren't slip-ons. Interestingly there is a piece of fabric attached to the collar of one of the robes and the researchers believe it to be a scarf. You can see some of the screencaps I took here. (Nguyen Lan Cuong, episode 12)

The number layers on the Khan Dong (turban on fig. 22) told the status of the person. Commoners had 5-6 layers on their turban. Officials and higher class persons had 8-9 layers. (Truong Ngoc Tuong, episode 19)

Nguyen Dynasty clothing is very loose by todays standards. Clothing for brides required even more looseness and sleeves were wider than the norm. The clothing of brides was traditionally red or pink on the outside and yellow or green/blue on the inside. Grooms wore blue on the outside and red, pink, or yellow on the inside. (Truong Ngoc Tuong, episode 19)

Black was the most common color in the Nguyen Dynasty. (Truong Ngoc Tuong, episode 19)

There was friendly trading with Japan harking back to at least the 16th century. As to whether there may or may not be some Japanese influence on Vietnamese clothing... I don't really know.


Explanation on the Figures

Fig. 1 is an imperial concubine who later becomes the Queen Mother (as in the mother of the reigning King/Emperor).

According to the researchers, the relief statue of Fig. 2 is not of an actual Tran Emperor but someone with the surname Ngo. Apparently they believe the outfit is supposed to be cross between a king/emperors dragon robe and monk attire. Confused? Yeah, so am I. There is a statue of an actual Tran emperor but the figure has been beheaded by foreigner invaders. I decided to depict this figure anyways because the details are more clear (for the headdress especially), and hope to someday draw the statue of the actual Tran Emperor. In either case, it is still useful because the clothing styles between the two statues is somewhat similar.

The statue I referenced Fig. 3 from was also beheaded by foreigner invaders. I followed the recreated version in the documentary.

Fig. 7: the reference photo on Wikipedia was in black/white and I couldnt find the color version. I thought the next best thing was to reference the colors from an excavated robe that belonged to another Le Emperor. Furthermore, a lot of the details were washed out and difficult to decipher. If anyone has a better version of this painting, please let me know!

Fig. 13 and 14 are probably around 17th century.

Fig. 14: This style of dress appears to pop up quite frequently on Le dynasty statues and it seems pretty significant so that is why I decided to include it here. Remnants of this particular dress could be found in Nguyen dynasty dancers.

Fig. 25 appears to be the dress that has preserved the most historical elements. However the ao tu than is typically associated with northern women and is mostly regarded as a "peasant" dress nowadays.

Fig. 26 and 27 are typical wedding attire. Fig. 27's attire is derived from the royal Nguyen dynasty dress.

Fig. 29: The Jing people are ethnic Vietnamese who immigrated to Mainland China hundreds of years ago. I was hoping to see preservation of ancient clothing but alas it seems that their clothing is updated with fashions trends from the motherland. I decided to include them anyways because I thought their fashion take was quite cute with a glitzy touch to it.

Last but not least:

Thank you everyone for your feedback from my last historical fashion timeline! I haven't managed to get through all the comments but I will try to soon!

If I ever do another fashion timeline it will be a toss up between Thailand, Mongolia, Korea, or Japan. I'm debating whether or not if I want to do Chinese hanfu but there's 5,000 years worth of Chinese clothing to wade through and there are plenty enough resources so...
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LemonNeko1911 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my God! This is stunning! 
Imma Vietnamese tho
MagicPastaTitans Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2015  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome work. The king girl is adorable!
Slappy-Snifferdoo Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow! Stunning work on your research and illustration!:clap:
hubertroguski Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2015
amazing work!
secretdwellings Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2015   Filmographer
I am stupefied, not only with the brilliance of your artistic talent, but also with the hours of painstaking study you have put into your work!
randomkeystone Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2015
There is tremendous importance to your work and you well deserve all the appropriate accolades. When it comes to Chinese clothing; even the last 300 years would speak volumes.
LoveMangaStyleArt Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2014
love this
AndreaSilva60 Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2014
amazing....... great work
oragamirabbit Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a fascinating choice of clothing to study. What got you into this type of clothing?
Aprilequinox Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice job!  It's obvious you put a lot of time, effort and research into this and it looks great!
LaughButts Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
HEHEH the 21st century is like so cute and almost K-Poppish!
xoxodaisy22 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is amazing, I LOVE IT!!!!
Hokkohono Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome work !
AMelodyOfTheMemories Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Cool! I'm an Vietnamese my self and I didnt even know 'bout my country's history THIS much
Epic-Tragedy267 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2014
Stunning! :)
darklord86 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014
I love this!
trucd Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you this was very useful
CeciliaArt Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2013
These are great:D (Big Grin) 
lavpham189 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Hi Lilsuika,
Thank you for your dedication to search for historical costume evolution.  I'm interested in them, too, especially the Vietnamese ones.  Yet, just like you at the beginning, I couldn't gather enough information.  I'm a Vietnamese and yet I don't know much about the development of these historical costume.  Thank you a lot for these awesome sources and arts/demonstrations!! <3
Besides, there was one source I found years ago said that the ancient Chinese Hanfu came to China from Vietnam.  It was from a research paper by a Chinese lady/scholar, I believe.  If you are interested, I'll search for it and get back to you =)
CrystalDragonLove Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
The Princess's dress from the Nguyen dynasty looks identical to a ao dai that my family owns....
BugleMan-Snow Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2013
Very helpful!
Elbytron Featured By Owner May 27, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This whole series is so inspirational! Thanks for sharing.
Leheipan Featured By Owner May 13, 2013
fuck u, all copy from china, the dragon, the texture, the soldier, WTF, !!!!!!!!!!!!
Cyncynz Featured By Owner May 18, 2013
You realise that China repeatedly invaded Vietnam, yes? -.-
Instances in which China has invaded Vietnam [link]
Stopcopperingme Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It looks chinese did they copy it from china?
ShizukaxxxSecret Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2015  Hobbyist
"Copy?" Ha! More like the Chinese FORCED it upon us. 
anan2410 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2013
because my country was invaded by China over 1000 years so culture, our costumes are also affected
KurtExpress Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow this is beautiful.Such a nice collection, and such flowy fabrics. :)
Cameron-Brideoake Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
A wonderful collection, beautiful style as usual. Thanks for this insight into such an interesting cultural history!
janet14 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2013
I love asian culture and history
Nintendraw Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Vietnam FTW! :D I didn't realize there were so many different outfits! (Just the first and last rows XD)
Lamori Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2013  Student Artist
o b ba :"D o di <33333
nupowermnn Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks Its interesting to know a little bit more about your culture ● □●
MEW-tiful Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Professional General Artist
These are really really helpful! Thank You so much!
Desolatesoul1123 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2013
gudruna Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2013
AkaiTennyo Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Hobbyist
This is an amazing reference page. The work you put into it is mindboggling. It's going to be so useful, thank you so much. :heart:
7seven7tools Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013  Student General Artist
Wah! Beautiful!
SubetaRyu Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012
Fascinating and beautiful, and your description is illuminating.
tachii Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2012  Student General Artist
This is super helpful and detailed and wow amazing! Thank you so much for making this and your other Fashion timelines.
ruhiko Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
feels like our country fashion trend has been degraded since the 19th century ~,~ except the o di. Great illustration still :D
evilken0502 Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2012  Student
tôi đang cần 1 tư liệu như thế này, cảm ơn bạn
SweetDarknesz Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Amazing detail @ 3 @ love this piece and all the interesting info you found!
Cerulians Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this one, too!
whalewhalewhale Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2012
XTrinhityX Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2012
So I saw how you are into Avatar, this may seem a little obvious and sort of childish, but Viet clothing seems very Earth kingdom/Fire nation like...

ellaviet Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hi, I am Vietnamese designer and very interested with your article. Can you let us know your article based on which documents? Can we use as a source of reference for research?. Thank you
lilsuika Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2012   Digital Artist
The references are in my descriptions.

The majority of my information is from the film documentary "Di Tim Trang Phuc Viet", I've listed the episodes from which the quotes appear from.

Other Sources are: Christoforo Borri’s account of Cochinchina from 1618-1622 (Le dynasty)

Views of Seventeenth-Century Vietnam: Christoforo Borri on Cochinchina and Samuel Baron on Tonkin

John Crawfurd's Journal of an Embassy to the Courts of Siam and Cochin-China , published in 1830

My gathered reference material can be found at my pinterest, or Troy’s Fotki gallery, Cornell University Library’s Southeast Asia Visions

I think it would be better to use the primary sources (listed above) rather than my annotated notes.
ellaviet Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hi, I am Vietnamese designer and very interested with your article. Can you let us know your article based on which documents? Can we use as a source of reference for research?. Thank you
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