What Did Ancient Chinese Emperors Wear?

In China, dressing code was one of the easiest ways to tell the difference between people. Those in authority wore differently from other people. The emperors wore outfits called Longpao. Longpao is an attire made up of dragon patterns and embroidery that create auspicious patterns. However, these Longpaos have different colors depending on the dynasty. Read on to find out more about what ancient Chinese emperors wore.

What did emperors wear in ancient china?

black dragon robe

Emperors in ancient china wore outfits called Longpao. The first and second emperors wore black Longpao. They used black Longpao as the official dress code for the court.

red dragon robe

Some emperors also used yellow Longpao. The first emperor to use yellow, Longpao, was the emperor of the Han Dynasty. Yellow became so popular among emperors and even the public. The emperor of the Sui Dynasty was the only emperor with a yellow Longpao and allowed commoners to dress in yellow. Later, the yellow color became a symbol of royalty, only for the emperor and his family.

yellow imperial dragon robe

Other emperors redesigned their Longpao and used more red colors. The Jin Dynasty emperor was the first to use red after others had used yellow. Also, Song and Ming dynasties used red Longpao for their emperors. The Song Empire used red Longpao because their symbol was fire which is red. The Ming dynasty’s family name is Zhu, a Chinese meaning red. Their family name motivated the emperor to choose red as the color of his Longpao. However, Ming Dynasty had three colors of Longpao; red, yellow, and white.

qing dynasty dragon robe

Other dynasties, like the Qing dynasty, used dragon robes as outfits for the emperors. The dragon robes were embroidered in a class way of drawing the dragons. Also, threads of silver and gold were incorporated into the dragon dress alongside peacock feathers. Qing dynasty dragon robes’ theme colors were blue, light blue, bright yellow, and red. The dragon robe symbolizes the emperor’s authority, so he wears it to the court and special occasions.

Did Chinese emperors wear crowns?

crown of chinese emperor

Among the three headwear that Chinese emperors wore were crowns. The crown was commonly known as Mian guan. The emperor, his ministers, and other aristocrats wore the Mian guan. The crown, Mianguan, was the most expensive headwear, and the emperor wore it only for special occasions. The Han Dynasty came up with specifications on how to make the crown. The other dynasties that followed incorporated the same rules. The idea of wearing the crown ended during the fall of the Ming Dynasty.

Chinese emperor shoes

Chinese emperor shoes

Apart from the Longpao and different head wears, Chinese emperors wore shoes too. Even in their ancient days, they had discovered how to turn fur and plants into something that could protect their feet and improve their fashion sense. The emperor’s shoes were boot-like and had soles like other shoes. More parts of the shoes were made of expensive fabrics and fur. The shoes were made using silk, and hand embroidery was used to make dragon patterns. Most of the shoes were yellow, especially those of the emperor of the Qing Dynasty.


The emperors’ outfits were highly influenced by their belief in dragons. The colors were chosen depending on the beliefs of each dynasty. Finally, the most famous outfit was the yellow Longpao and yellow shoes.

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