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Evolution of Vietnamese Clothing (and Ao Dai) by lilsuika Evolution of Vietnamese Clothing (and Ao Dai) by lilsuika
8/24/12: Added 3 new figures.

Refs here: [link] and [link]

I love historical clothing and seeing how it evolves. I’ve longed to see the evolution of Vietnamese clothing but always came up empty handed due to lack of information... until now. I owe a lot of the references to the documentary “Searching for Vietnamese Clothing” (Đi tìm trang phục Việt) which impressively took the filmmaker’ 3 years to film and sources from the Internet ([link] [link]). I created this timeline because as a visual person, I like to know how clothing changed by seeing it side by side.

I attempted to make a timeline with only primary references (i.e. paintings, sculptures, and photographs from that time period). I tried to stay true to the original sources’ as much as possible but I can’t say that this is completely accurate. A few art pieces were really hard to decipher (the sitting Buddhist statues in particular) and not being able to see them in person required me to take some educated guesses. I used my own color preferences with the statues that did not have color to reference from. Regrettably I had to skip a few early dynasties because artifacts of those eras seem to have been lost to time or I couldn't pinpoint the dating.

Continually a work in progress and more may be added.

Artist Observations:

*Due to approximately 1,000 years of various periods of Chinese domination and rule, dynastic Vietnamese clothing will inevitably share similar qualities with Han Chinese clothing (aka Hanfu). In particular, from 1407 to 1427 the Ming Dynasty took an extremely aggressive attempt to sinicize the country. Many cultural artifacts were destroyed and the natives were forced to wear Chinese clothing. Regardless, there are notable differences. Dong Son Culture (fig. 1) is the time period before any Han influence takes place.

* The colors and textile in Fig. 1 is largely hypothetical though I tried to draw the figure's clothing as accurately as I interpreted it. Looking at the artifacts that the Dong Son culture left behind, I can see that they were a very advanced civilization. Their works of art were very detailed and intricate, so I assumed that the textile their clothing would be just as ornate. I see current day Vietnamese clothing sharing quite a few elements with the ethnic tribes, and believe that ethnic minorities may have retained a possible link to the past. With the Dong Son culture also sharing a link to Tibeto-Burman culture, Dai culture, Mon-Khmer culture, I assumed that it would be okay to look at those cultures for inspiration for the textile/clothing fabric. I thought it might be similar to the long gone ancient Mayan civilization, whose influence in textile still survives in today's Guatemalan and Mexican cultures.

The pattern on her yellow sash thingy (words fail me, bah) came from an Ao Dai which coincidentally had a pattern that came from a Dong Son drum. Coming full circle here. Lol.

* On average, people wore 3-5 layers of clothing and up to 6 layers in the Le Dynasty. 16-18th century scarves and gloves have been excavated. [link]

* Sleeves could reach to 40cm and were typically the length of chin to waist in the Le Dynasty.

* Skirts were banned in 1826 as they were deemed to be “unseemly bottomless pants”. Not all women followed suit as it was easier to work in skirts than pants.

* Buttoned up collars and buttoned clothing does not seem to appear until the late 18th century at the earliest. Interestingly this change seems to coincide with the advent of the Nguyen Dynasty.

* The Ao Tu Than (Fig. 9, 10 and 12) is still around today but as it stopped evolving in the 20th century I decided to concentrate on the Ao Dai (Fig. 14-18).

* The conical rice hat (Fig. 17) was originally only worn by men (which can be seen in many photographs with Nguyen dynasty soldiers) and only became part of women’s wear sometime in the 20th century.

* Le Dynasty wins for being the most stylish and varied. Mac Dynasty for the prettiest. Just IMO.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2012-03-24
Evolution of Vietnamese Clothing (and Ao Dai) by ~lilsuika ( Suggested by raka-raka and Featured by Moonbeam13 )
ValorousOwl Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2019  Student General Artist
as Viet Kieu, this kind of thing is really important for me to see. Thanks for making it.
ErsatzCAPanda Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
Simply beautiful and so much attention to detail given to each outfit!
Nice work on this, you deserved that Daily Deviation.
doglover9754 Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Figure 7 is my fave...
TanithLipsky Featured By Owner May 14, 2018
wow. excellent
AkitaNakraArts Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
OMG my traditional clothes
MrShitPost Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2018  Hobbyist
i'm more proud of my country cause of this <3
hannahelizabethh Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2018  Student General Artist
your asain cultural infographics are very interesting :)
6Stain9 Featured By Owner Apr 9, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Now I know how beautiful it looked! Beautiful pieces of clothing, colourful, and I really like the textures/pattern you used for some pieces
starryeyed-nz Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
pitioti Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2018
really interesting and beautifull 0O0
sorrowscall Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2018
The one from the 14-15th century Tran Dynasty was especially lovely. 
DerpyNyan Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2018
Ok, this is just fantastic, and hella useful. A++ for this awesome piece of art!
Ponpoii Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Woah these are so amazing! You are excellent you wonderful artist you!
goldwinmagusib Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2018  Student Digital Artist
Speechless 😱👏
ShaShaSha777 Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2018
Figure 1 and 13 are my personal favourites.
AxellineOfficial Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2018
this is so beautiful, and quite educational too tbh
I mean, I never really looked up how certain cultures' clothings evolved, and now I'm very intrgued in seeing other stuff like this 
Bloody-crackerjack Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2017
is it ok if I use these designs as inspirations?
Poker0419 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2017  Student Digital Artist
fig 1 looks like a sassy mom
ScissorNapper Featured By Owner Edited Dec 23, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing...!

One of the dresses remind me of an outfit that Mulan from Disney wore. owo;

I also share your opinion, that the Le and Mac Dynasty had the prettiest style. ^^;
Legionaire1776 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2017  Student Artist
Huh. That's actually pretty neat.
GothikAngelica Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
My God this is absolutly beautiful!
Strongharbour Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2017
Thanks, this has been really informative
senzirri Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
These are absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for the effort you put into the research for this. Also, your style is great!
doctorchen Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2017
It looks a bit like Chinese clothes.
FuntimeWillRyan Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2017
I used to learn Vietnamese, though I changed schools and stopped. The culture is really cool.
MartmeisterPaladin Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2017  Hobbyist
Darknessmagician Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2017  Student Digital Artist
So impressive!
Lonewolfninja89 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2017
I wish they made some historical Vietnamese dynasty dramas. I would watch those in a heart beat. The only one they made was "Blood Letter" for the Le Dynasty.
Gryphonia Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Very pretty :heart:
TeamBattleaxe Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2017
I think Fig:13 looks the coolest though it might just be her pose! I'm inspired by your work, would you mind if I use some of your figures? It's only for a fictional worldbuilding project which has a wiki, not anything commercial :)
asyn03 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2017  Professional Filmographer
Great work
rosewitchcat Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2017
;) (Wink) 
RoboPika20 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2017  Professional Traditional Artist
Beautiful Love 
This is very impressive Nod 
and you gave them each their own individual pose and expression Heart 
Very well done :D (Big Grin) 
JoJoHose Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome ^^ This is lovely <3
BlueYoukai Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
That's a lot of changes. All of them look beautiful. <3
IndigoWizard Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
6 is my fav
biohazard09 Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2017
They're all really beautiful
SANSandGALAXYCAT Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
fig. 7 was my favorite!
MatthiasTeivel Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Excellent, all of them. I especially like the colors and design of Figure 6. :thumbsup:
RepublicOfVietnam Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2017
Love all of them. The beauty of Sinosphere's clothing!
Stelarography Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2017
Gorgeous! I like them all. Fig 7,8 and 9 are soo cute btw.
Loukho Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2017  Student Digital Artist
Your work is fascinating :)
Grahamhorridge68 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2017
MarkNvy-Ao-Dai Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2016
Great job, thank you
YensidTim Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2016
Your art is the reason why I got so invested into ancient Sinosphere clothing! thank you so much!
YensidTim Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016
Although your chart for Vietnam has lots of inaccuracies, I still respect your dedication :)
RedDiamond28 Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2016  Hobbyist
The mid 20th century ones remind me a bit of Indian fashion
CP-LunarLight Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2016  Student General Artist
Cool !
linlinooooo Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Niceee !!
Simplebsb1 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016
hi,I like your picture and instruction so much,it's first time that I know so much about Vietnam garments,I feel so delighted. But as a Chinese Han, I can't agree with what you said on Ming Han People, Vietnam garments become similar to Chinese ones for the culture influence, it's very common. It's like now both of us speak English now,we can't say Americans or other English native speakers want us to be the same as them,right?
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Submitted on
February 29, 2012
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