|The cheongsam (qipao) is a female dress with distinctive Chinese features and
enjoys a growing popularity in the international world of high fashion.
The name "cheongsam," meaning simply "long dress," entered the English
vocabulary from the dialect of China's Guangdong Province (Cantonese). In
other parts of the country including Beijing, however, it is known as "qipao"(Manchurian),
which has a history behind it.
When the early Manchu rulers came to China proper, they organized certain
people, mainly Manchus (Manchurian), into "banners" (qi) and called them "banner
people" (qiren), which then became loosely the name of all
The Manchu women wore normally a one-piece dress which, likewise, came to be
called "qipao" or "banner dress." Although the 1911 Revolution
toppled the rule of the Qing (Manchu) Dynasty, the female dress survived the
political change and, with later improvements, has become the traditional
dress for Chinese women.
Easy to slip on and comfortable to wear, the cheongsam (qipao) fits well the
female Chinese figure. Its neck is high, collar
and its sleeves may be either short, medium or full length, depending on
season and taste. The dress is buttoned on the right side, with a loose
chest, a fitting waist, and slits up from the sides, all of which combine to
set off the beauty of the female shape.
The cheongsam(qipao) is not too complicated to make. Nor does it call for too
much material, for there are no accessories like belts, scarves, sashes or
frills to go with it.
Another beauty of the cheongsam is that, made of different materials and
to varying lengths, they can be worn either on casual or formal occasions.
In either case, it creates an impression of simple and quiet charm, elegance
and neatness. No wonder it is so much liked by women not only of China but
of foreign countries as well.