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Cloud Cape

The cloud cape is a kind of clothing tied on the neck and covering the shoulders. Its history can be dated back to as early as the Sui Dynasty. By the Qing Dynasty, it had been extensively spreaded to all classes of the society, and become an indispensable clothing for young women, especially at weddings.

As for the development of the cloud cape, no written records have been found in literatures before the Qin and Han Dynasties. Judging from the design, it may come from exotic clothing under influences of northern nomadic tribes. Relevant imagic data first turned up in Dunhuang mural paintings of the Sui Dynasty where the Sinicized Goddess of Mercy wore a cloud cape.  Though maybe originated from extraneous nations, the cloud cape has been absorbed by the Han nationality as a result of national amalgamation and the worship to heaven, which become a model of ethical clothing culture that reflects the concept of harmony between man and nature at that time.

Most cloud capes take the pattern of "four ruyi enclosing each other" (ruyi, an S-shaped ornamental article, usually made of jade, as a symbol of good luck), and some are in a stripped pattern. A cloud cape normally involves eight pieces of clouds arranged in two layers, and each one embroidered with birds, flowers, grasses and insects, or with stories from folktales. It will take a long time to make an equisite cloud cape, and the fine workmanship is really amazing. There are varied steeks for the embroidery of cloud capes, such as connection stitch, rolling stitch, pine needle, wan stitch, couching stitch, bullion knot stitch, quan jin, qiang stitch, plain stitch, etc.

A cloud cape has to be designed in conformity to the shape of the person it is made for, namely follow the contours of the body. Pertaining to the colors, the five primary ones are the basic colors assorted with others. The cloud cape is not to be worn solely. Instead, it has to be matched with other clothes, because only as part of a whole can its advantages be fully accentuated.