Chinese Boys' Clothes: Chronology--The Machus/Qing (1644-1911)



Figure 1.--Queen Cixi's son was Emperor Tongzhi. He died in 1875 at the age of 19. He was the eighth Manchu (Qing) emperor. Note the yellow imperial dragon robe.

The Ming in 1643 employed the war-like Manchus from the northeast to defend China from the Central Asian Tatars. A Manchu prince established himself in Peking, and, in 1644, on the suicide of the last Ming emperor, took the imperial throne, founding the last royal dynasty of China. The first Manchu emperor, Shunzhi, only 1 year after bevoming emperor in 1645 ordered that pigtails (queues) should be worn in the style of the Manchu. This was seen as a sign of submission to Manchu rule. [Chang] The enforced adoption by the Chinese of the plaited queue of the Manchus at first produced friction between the two peoples, but this gradually disappeared, and Manchus and Chinese assumed harmonious relations, but the Manchus remained a destinct warrior and official class. The huge Chinese population and culture gradually engulfed the numerically small invaders who adopted Chinese language and culture. The Manchus conqured Mongolia and ruled Manchuria. The gratest Manchu emperor was K'ang Hsi (1662-1722). He conquered Tibet. He promoted sciemce and the arts. The Central Asian states of Turkestan and Kashgaria were conquered by Ch'ien Lung (1736-96). Burma was penetrated and Cochin China (Vienam) and Korea were forced to pay tribute. After Ch'ien subsequent Machu emperors encountered increasingly difficulty suppressing rebellions. The Chinese tendency to turn inward and failure to pursue modern science and industry made it increasingly difficult to contend with the growing power of European nations intent on entering the China trade. The Manchus, who found it difficult, to descriminate among Europeans found it difficult to understand the national rivalries as well as the avarice of the Europeans. Trade florished even under restructions imposed by the Manchus. Europeans had difficulty, however, in delivering products of interest to the Chinese, until the British and other foreign merchants i the 19th century began selling increasing quantities of opium which was illegal in China. The increasing tendency of Eurropean governments to intervene to protect their traders and the desire to maintain the lucrative opium trade led to Opium War which began in 1840. A naval task force by 1842 had forced China to make major concessions including ceeding Hong Kong as a British enclave. Other European powers also demanded similar enclaves. This generally took the form of areas of cities, but the French seized Tonkin expanding control of Indo-China (1884) and Japan, which did embrace modern technology, seized control of Korea (1894) and Taiwan (1895). Two elements emerged in China to contend with the Europeans. The first was traditionalist reactionary force inspired by the Emperess to exterminate the foreigners. Nationalist reformers desiring to modernize China were persecuted. The Boxers with their primitives weapons and with them the Emperess were humiliated by a foreign military expediton in 1900-01. Gradually the reformers grew in strength.

The Ming

The Ming in 1643 employed the war-like Manchus from the northeast to defend China from the Central Asian Tatars. A Manchu prince, Chongde (1636-43) established himself in Peking. Zhongzhen (1628-44), the last Ming emperor, committed suiside in 1644. The Manchus seized the imperial throne, founding the last royal dynasty of China.

The Manchu Emperors

The Manchus were were originally a war-like, nomadic people that came to dominate Manchuria, or northeastern China. They were not the first foreign invaders to conquer China and seize the imperial throne. The Manchus remained a destinct warrior and official class. The huge Chinese population and culture gradually engulfed the numerically small invaders who adopted Chinese language and culture. The first Manchu Emperors stabilized China and hekped promote a period of relative prosperity. China's population tripled during the first half of the dynasty. The focus of the Manchus was threats to their empire from the traditional land threats from the north and central Asia. The Manchus successfully dealt with these traditional threats. They conqured Mongolia and ruled Manchuria. The Manchus were totaly unprepred for a new threat--the European threat from the sea. The extrodinarily extravigance of the imperial court and corruption weakened China during the reign of subsequent Manchu emperors making it incapable of effectively dealing with the European challenge.

Emperor Shunzhi (1644-61)

The first Manchu emperor was Shunzhi. He was the ninth son of Abahai, the ruler of Manchuria. Shunzhi became emperor as a boy of 6 years. China was a first ruled by a regency of Dorgon, a brother of Shunzhi's father. Dorgon ruled as an absolute emperor until his death in 1650. One of Dorgon's edicts, only 1 year after his nephew became emperor in 1645, required that pigtails (queues) should be worn in the style of the Manchu. This was seen as a sign of submission to Manchu rule. [Chang] The enforced adoption by the Chinese of the plaited queue of the Manchus at first produced friction between the two peoples, but this gradually disappeared, and Manchus and Chinese assumed harmonious relations. After his uncle died, Shunzhi was still boy, was influenced by both court eunuchs and Buddhist priests. His principal accomplishment was to increase the number of Chinese officials serving the Manchus. He died at the young age of 22. The circumstances are not fully understood. Rumors suggest that a beloved consort's death caused him to retire to a Buddhist monastery.

K'ang Hsi (1662-1722)

K'ang Hsi followed Shunzhi. He is generally considered the greatest Manchu emperor. He conquered Tibet. He promoted sciemce and the arts.

Yongzheng (1723-1735)

Imperail tombs are some of the major sources of information about Chinese emperors. The Ming tombs are collected in one lush valley. The Manchus are, however, mostly burried in two different locations--the Eastern and Western Tombs. Emperor K'ang Hsi decided to pass the imperial crown to a yonger son. Yongzheng his oldest son acted to seize the crown. He then ordered the execution of all his brothers in addition to his father's ministers. He later siffered from guilt and could not beat the thought of being buried next to his father. He selected a burial site diametrically opposite the established Imperial Tombs, on the western instead of the eastern side of Beijing where previous Manchu emperors were burried.

Ch'ien Lung (1736-96)

China's encounters with the outside world have significantly changed its politics . It has vaciklated widekly between dominance ahnd subgegation. [Arne-Westad] China in the 18th century was still domunately miltarily in Asia. Emperor Ch'ien Lung conquered the Central Asian states of Turkestan and Kashgaria. China ivaded Burma (1760s). [Arne-Westad] China penetrated Cochin China (Vietnam). Korea were forced to pay tribute. This was at the time that the Industria Revolution began in Britain. Nothing of the kind occurred in China, despite the fact that many of the technological advances that led to the Industria Revolution were first developed in China. The Industrial Revolution aftyer the Npoleomic Wars would fundamentally change the power balnce betweemn China and the West.

Subsequent Manchu empeors

After Ch'ien subsequent Machu emperors encountered increasingly difficulty suppressing rebellions and handling the demand from European countries intent on expanding their share of the China trade. Imperial regimes engaged in runious spending, must of which to support a corupt court. The Chinese tendency to turn inward and failure to pursue modern science and industry made it increasingly difficult to contend with the growing power of European nations intent on entering the China trade. The Manchus, who found it difficult, to descriminate among Europeans did not understand the national rivalries as well as the avarice of the Europeans. Trade florished even under restructions imposed by the Manchus.

Daoguang (1821-1850)

The threat posed by the Europeans was finally brought home to the Manchus during the reign of Daoguang. Until Daogung the Manchus had desguised concencesions to the Europeans as commercial actions given at the pleasure of the emperor barbarian peoples of little importance. Daoguang was born in 1782. Daoguang acceeded to the throne in 1821. He was the only Manchu Emperor to make a serious attempt to challenge the Europeans. His efforts did not, however, include any effort to carry out fundmental conomic and social reforms. Previous emperors had nearly bankrupted the imperial treasury. Daoguang attempted to address China's depleted finances, primarily by introducing an an austre regime at court. He also attempted to control the increasingly serious problem of drug addiction which brought the ill-prepared Imperial Army in conflict with modern military forces equipped by an industrializing western power--the Opium War (1939-42). The disastrous results of the Opium War were accompanied by the failure Daoguang's domestic policies. Huge sums were emblzeled by imperial officials. The corruption hampered critical state projects. Maintance of the Grand Canal and Yellow River dikes declined. Unemployment of boatmen and declining harvests fed unemployment and discontent. The cost of the Opium War and the indemnity forced on China left the county's finnces in a wort state than when Daoguang rose to the throne. He died in 1850, just before the Taiping Rebellion.

The Opium War (1839-42)

The Opium War was a critical turning point in Chinese history. In the West it is a conflict virtually unknown except to historians. In China every schoolboy knows about it. Europeans encountered a major problem in trding with China. The Europeans had difficulty delivering products of interest to the Chinese. This only began to change hen the British and other foreign merchants in the 19th century began selling increasing quantities of opium which was illegal in China. The increasing tendency of Eurropean governments to intervene to protect their traders and the desire to maintain the lucrative opium trade led to Opium War which began in 1840. A British naval task force by 1842 had forced China to make major concessions including ceeding the then undeveloped island of Hong Kong as a British enclave. Other European powers subsequently demanded similar enclaves. This generally took the form of areas of port cities from which trade could be controlled.

Xiafeng (1851-61)

Xiafeng was born in 1831. He come to the throne as a very young man at a time the imperial regime was disintegrating as a result of Daoguang's failed efforts to address domestic and foreign problems. His reign was confonted with both domestic rebellions and foreign threats. The foreign threat was especially difficult. British and French troops occupied Beijing and Xianfeng fled. The Government was forced to sign the Beijing Convention onceding acceptance of the 1858 Treaties of Tientsin, which he had refused to ratify. Xiafeng died soon after fleeing Beijing. This effectively left China in the hands of his young son's mother--Cixi

Taiping Rebellion (1851-64)

The Taiping Rebellion was perhaps the largest, bloodiest civil war in history. It was also the largest war fought in the 19th century when measured in mortalities. It was fought between the rebels of the Taiping Hevenly Kingdom amd the Manchu ing dynasty. More then 20 million lives were lost in thw 14-year war. Both sides sought aid from the Europeans.

Dowager Empress Cixi (1835-1908)

Cixi or Tzs-Hsi was never formally recognized as a ruling soverign of China. As Dowager Empress, however, she dominatd China for half a century during a critical point in the country's history. Cixi was a low-ranking concubine of Emperor Xianfeng. Her position was acquired by bearing his only son, Tongzhi (figure 1). Cixi was both cunning and ambitious. She acted as a regent for the boy Emperors Tongzhi and Guangxu. She surrounded herself with traditionally minded officials, absorbed with preserving their positions by taking needed steps to modernize China. As Dowager Empress she conducted state affairs from behind a screen. Her dominance over China proved disastrous and prevented China from taking any serious steps toward modernization. Her policies were in sharp contrast to those adopted in Japan and were to have disastrous cinsquences for China in the 20th century.

Tongzhi (1862-74)

Tongzhi was born in 1856. He was the only son of Xiafeng. He ascended the throne at age 6 in 1862 after his father's death. He was figure head under the regency of his mother--the Dowager Empress Cixi. There was a brief attempt to restor the imperial government. The imperial finances were partially restored. Tongzhi assumed control at the age of 17 years, but died only 2 two years later.

Guangxu (1875-1908)

Guangxu or Kuang Hsu was born in 1871. He was a nephew of the Dowager Empress. On the death of Tongzhi, the Dowager Empress chose Guangxu as th new emperor in 1875. By adopting him, the Empress was able to maintain her contol of the imperial government as regent and continue wielding power behind the scenes. The French seized Tonkin expanding control of Indo-China (1884) and Japan, which did embrace modern technology, seized control of Korea (1894) and Taiwan (1895). Two elements emerged in China to contend with the Europeans. The first was traditionalist reactionary force inspired by the Emperess to exterminate the foreigners. Guangxu in 1889 at the age of 19 attempted to take control from the Dowager Empress. He attempted to reform the imperail government. The goal was to maintain core Chinese values, but reforming outdated laws and policies. The movement lasted only 103 days until it was successfully suppressed by conservative forces loyal to the Dowager Empress. Guangxu 's "six earnest reformists" were beheaded and he was placed under house arrest for 10 years while the situation in China under the Dowager continued to deteriorate. Emperor Guangxu was kept under house arrest in the the Hall of Jade Ripples within the Forbidden City. Nationalist reformers desiring to modernize China were persecuted. The conservative forces launched the Boxer Rebellion to rid China of the Foreign Devils. The Boxers with their primitives weapons and with them the Emperess, however, were humiliated by a foreign military expediton in 1900-01. Gradually the reformers grew in strength. The aging Dowager Empress In November 1908, became seriously ill. She and her advisors did not want Guangxu from regaining power. Guangxu died the day before the Dowager Empress, under suspicious circumstances. resumably she or her advisers caused Guangxu's "untimely" death. Many believe that he was poisoned. If returned to power he would have presumably soight revenge against those who had imprisoned him. He was reported to have been in good health. The Dowager Empress' final decree was to transfer the imperial throne to Puyi, Guangxu's nephew.



Figure 2.--This photograph shoes Puyi at about age 10 in 1916. Although China already became Republic of China, the government give special treatment to the Manchu Royal family. The family remained in the imperial palace, conducted ceremonies, but had no political power. Note the traditional clothes and pigtail.

Xuatong/Puyi (1908-24)

Puyi was born in 1906 and and on the daeth of his uncle Guangxu became the last emperor of China. We have noted various spellings, P'u-i, Puyi, Pu-Yi, and Buyi. Unlike his newphew, he did not have the Dowager Empress as regent. Pu Yi's father, Prince Ch'un, served as his son's regent. The prince, however, disliked politics and court officials conducted givernment affairs. Reformers in China demanded change and action aginst the Europeans. They considered Prince Ch'un weak and the imperial regime corrupt and backward--incapable of challenging the Europeans. Puyi was raised by court officials who taught him to leave a desolate life. A Scottish tutor, Reginald Johnston, was hired for him. Puyi was forced to abdiagate in 1912 after the 1911 Republican Revolution. He was permitted to live in the Forbidden City until 1924. He was courted by the Japanese who had acquired the former German concessions in Manchuria. Puyi took up residence in the Japanese concession at Tientsin. The Japanese gradually expanded their control of Manchuria. They installed him in 1933 as Emperor of the puppet state of Manchoukuo. He met with Emperor Hirohito. We do not know the nature of their discussions. Puyi was surprised to learn that he had no real authority. The Soviet invaded Manchuria in the final weeks of World War II and turned him over to the Chinese for trial as a war criminal. The Chinese pardoned him in 1959. He returned to Beijing where he worked in the mechanical repair shop of a botanical garden and died in 1967. Puyi's life was beautifully told in the film, "The Last Emperor".

Historical Trends


Opium Wars

The Opium War was a war between the United Kingdom and Imperial China. The British objected to China's attempt to limit British shipments of Indian opium to China. The Chinese were reacting to ikncreasingly levels of addition among the Chinese people. It is notable that as late as 1840 that British traders were having difficulty supplying goods that were of interest to the Chinese in exchange for the many Chinese products (especially porcelin and silks) that were in demand in the West. One of the few British products that was in great demand was Indian opium. The War was the British effort to force the Imperial Government to cease its efforts to prevent opium importation. The War ended in 1842 with the Treaty of Nanking which opened specified Chinese ports to foreign trade and the cession by China of the island of Hong Kong to the British. The Opium War was a critical turning point in Chinese history. In the West it is a conflict virtually unknown except to historians. In China every schoolboy knows about it.

Christian Missionaries

The history of Christian missionaies is extensive and an important chapter of European history. It is largely an account of the Catholic Church. This did not change until the 19th century when Victorians, especially the English, began to evangelize the Gospel. British missionaries set out to bring the Gospel to the new Empire. Protestant missionaries were different from the Catholic missionaries in that they brought their families with them. British colonial officizals by the 19th century were also bringing their families, but were more likely to live in cloistered foreign communities. The missionary families were more likely to live with the local population since their mission was to convert them. American Protestants also took up this mission, especially after the Civil War (1861-65). American missionzaries went to many foreign locations, but no country fired the American missionary zeal more than China. The Espeys were part of this missionary effort. The missionaries themselves were concerned with salvation. There effort was, however, much more significant. With them they brought modernity and opening to a wider world. Often they set up schools, the first modern schools in China. In their wake came businessmen. They brought with them American products, stimulating a demand for these goods. Europeans seized control of treaty ports in China. The United States did not do this, but there were military consequences. The Japanese invasion of China (1937) was accompanied with horendous attrocities against Chinese civilians. Reports from missionaries in China had a profound impact on American public opinion. Thus when President Roosevelt began a series of diplomatic efforts including embargoes to force Japan out of China, he received considerable support in still largely isolationist America.

First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)

Japan began using it rising military power to build an overseas empire. The Japanese shocked the Chinese when they emerged victorious in the First Sino-Japanese War. Tension between China and Japan over interests in Korea broke out in war (1894). The War highlighted the decline of the Qing dynasty. It also highlighted the weakness of the Chinese military and the success of the modernization process in Japan. The Yi dynasty in Korea attempted continue its traditional seclusion. Korea had a tributary relationship with China which in exchange had provided military protection. China allowed Japan to recognize Korea as an independent state (1875). Subsequently the situation in Korea became complicated. China attempted to maintain its influence while Japan attempted to expand its influence. The Koreans divided between conservative traditionalists and reformists, many of who supported the Japanese. After the assassination of a reformer, a Korean religious sect, the Tonghak, launched a rebellion. The traditionalist Korean Government asked for Chinese military support. A Japanese military expedition reached Seoul (June 8, 1894), ostensibly to support the reformers. China declared war (August 1) after both land and naval engagements had occurred. The War was a disaster for China. The Japanese Arny mauled the Chinese in battles around Seoul and Pyˇngyang. The Chinese retreated north and suffered another defeat at Liaoning. The Japanese then took Port Arthur (Luda) (November 21). The Chinese fared even worse at sea. China's northern fleet was devastated by the Japanese Navy in a battle at the mouth of the Yalu River. The Yalu forms part of the border between China and Korea. The Japanese sank 8 of 12 Chinese ships engaged. The surviving 4 ships withdrew behind the fortifications of the naval base at Weihaiwei. There they were destroyed when the Japanese attacked by land across the Liaodong Peninsula. Japan took Weihaiwei (February 2, 1895). After the harsh Winter weather passed, The Japanese drove into Manchuria. The Chinese finally sued for peace. The Treaty of Shimonoseki ended the War (April 1895). Korea was recognized as a sovereign state, but effectively became a Japanese protectorate. China ceded Formosa (Taiwan), the Liaodong Peninsula, and the Pescadores Islands to Japan. The Japanese set out on a comprehensive program of imposing the Japanese language and culture. China was required to pay an indemnity of 200 million taels. Even more humiliating for China, they were forced to open four more treaty ports to external trade. The outcome of the War, however, was modified by the Triple Intervention (Russia, France, and Germany). They forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula, but China was required to pay an additional 30 million taels to mollify the Japanese. China's defeat outraged Chinese students and strengthened the reform movement in China. Sun Yat-sen founded the revolutionary republican movement which evolved into the Kuomintang.

The Republic (1911-49)

Agitation for a Chinese republic was led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen. A rebellion broke out ino October 10, 1911 that led to the over throw of the Manchus. The last emperor, Hsuan Pu-yi, a small boy, abdicated February 7, 1912. The 1911 Revolution and Chinese Republic had its own fashion dictates bringing a completely new look to Chinese fashion just as previous new dynasties had done. The importance of Western clothing grew after the Nationalist Revolution in 1911 and the fall of the last Machu Emperor. Even so, it was mostly seen in the larger coastal cities. Sun set new standards for formal attire to be worn. Chinese men wore both high and flat hats were demanded for formal wear and bowler hats and western suits or traditional long gowns were for less formal occassions. Ladies forformal events might wear a traditional jacket with front buttons down to the knees, slit on both sides and back and embroidery all over, worn with a black skirt. New regulations were adopted in the 1920s. Men were to wear Chinese tunic suits and ladies were to wear qipao. [Chang]

Boys' Clothing

We have no information on boys' clothing during the Manchu era. As far as we know at this time, there were no destinctive garmebnts for boys. Boys in the images available to us simply wear scaled down versions of mens clothes. We have just begun to collect information on the Machu and thus we may be mistaken here. We have very few images to go on at this time. Hopefully our Chinese readers will provide us some information on Manchu clothing.

Sources

Arne-Westad, Odd. Restless Empire: China and the West Since 1950 (2012), 528p.

Chun Chang, January 14, 2002







CIH





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Created: August 29, 2002
Last updated: 7:11 AM 3/30/2015