Pankou (buttons of the cheongsam) is used to fix the lapel of cheongsams. Buttons play an important role in the development of traditional Chinese costumes. These buttons are not only having the functions of fixing the lapels, but also themselves are the representatives of beauties. Those tiny buttons are full of simple and natural feelings, containing the sustenance and pursuit of people for a better life. And these buttons also have a recruit of happiness and they can convey the feelings.
Our ancestors would use a rope or belt to tie and buckle to tighten the bundles in the survival activities to make the clothes warm and not scattered. And this is the prototype of Pankou.
Figure 1: This is the diagram of Narrow Sleeve clothes called “Hu dress” in the moment of spring and autumn period of China. These clothes are used in the warring states period with short pants. And they will belt to make it easy for the wars.
Figure 2: The “shovel shaped jade belt hook” in the warring states Lu. And this was unearthed in the old city of Qufu tomb in Shandong.
Figure 3: It shows the sketch of deep lapel clothing of Qin and Han Dynasties. And a ribbon was sewed to tie on the waist or hips.
Figure 4: The “pair duck gold hook” for the waist belt. And it was unearthed in the 1st tomb of Fengxiang Shaanxi Qin Tomb.
In the long history of the development of Chinese dress in the course of five thousand years. The dresses all related to the rope, knots, belt and buckle. Ancestors twisted the knots into “s” ornament and decorated them on the waist. “Ribbon” was developed in the Zhou dynasty. “Same ribbons, same dreams” was developed in the northern and Southern Dynasties. While, in Tang dynasty, the customs of putting on the silk to make friends. Jade ribbons were popular in Song dynasty. And pankous were famous in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Now, let’s look at the following 4 figures.
Figure 1: This is the schematic diagram of big sleeve shirts in Weijin dynasty. This kind of dress style is the main style in the ancient period.
Figure 2: These are the “topless figurines” in the Northern Qi Dynasty. These figures are topless, with a tie on the waist, which were unearthed in Hejian Xing’s tomb in Hebei.
Figure 3: This figure shows a picture of “the banquet map of Han Xizai”. Women all wear narrow sleeve short jacket and skirt, with a ribbon on their waist.
Figure 4: Most of the women in this picture were wearing cheongsam in Qing dynasty. In the early period of Man dynasty, clothes were fixed with Pankou.
As a matter of fact, Pankou was truly molding and application by the influence of and the customs of the Qing Dynasty as well as the mainland area China. In this period, they all wear “Tang Clothes” and Cheongsams. This action were closely affect the popularity of Pankou. This is the third mutation in the Chinese traditional costume history following the “open outfit “and “Tang Clothes”. Application of Pankou in the Qing Dynasty in Chinese clothing is not very common, but sometimes they would sew a few buttons on the obvious positions.
The buttons in people’s clothes now are the development of Pankou in the function way. And Pankou have experienced in the long diversity of evolution of ancient Chinese rope, knot, belt and buckle. In the course of the evolution, each period has distinctive characteristics of Chinese clothing. It contains the wisdom as well as creative spirit of the Chinese nation. The production of pankou needs sophisticated technology. The modeling of pankous are exquisite and beautiful. And they have great variety of designs. Those designs all have the extremely rich imagination. As a means to beautify the clothing, pankou is the crystallization of the Chinese traditional culture.
A needle, a thimble, a scissor, a wire hoop, a wooden ruler, chalk, glue, cloth strips, they are all the main production tools to make Pankou. When you are making buttons, you can add materials according to requirements of the idea or the effect. You can wrap the cloth with cotton yarn lining to make the button full, or you can also wrap the lining metal wire to amorphous. There are lots of different materials to make Pankou. Cotton, hemp, silk, chemical fiber fabrics, silk and wool can all be used to make various Pankou.
A group of Pankou are containing knots, knocks and buckles. Composing these three parts to achieve a certain function. For example, the buckles can improve the beautify decorative effect. And the buttons generally adopt the traditional mode, with small changes in morphology. The buckles are changeable, full of tricks and flexibility, which can give great creative space for the produces to play. The pankous can be realistic, freehand brushwork in traditional Chinese painting.
Pankou have lots of categories. The shape of them can like the plum blossom, peach blossom, chrysanthemum, rose, flower buds, blue flowers, leaves, branches. And those like animals can be like Phoenix, peacock, swallow, butterfly, dragonflies, bees, frogs, snails and turtles. Those use Chinese knot as model can be like auspicious knot, ruyi knot, fate buckle, concentric knot, buckle ring, flower buckle, double buckle, pan Chang knot. Those Pankou which use Chinese characters for the modeling are all look like the words themselves.
Pankou are small and exquisite. They are containing the beauty and elegance of Chinese culture. They are cute and romantic. Pankou are the customs of China, the show of the change of Chinese clothes as well as the traditional folk arts developed in the long-term labor practice and life accumulation. And these handmade technology will never be replaced by the machines.