Chinese are known for their cheep and low quality products, fake Louis Vuitton and Fendi bags, Adidas sneakers and probably fake furs? But is that all there is to the glorious and enormous Asian region? A long time ago Chinese silk revolution outdated fur industry. What if instead of silk road we talk about fur road from Asia?  Sable fur in this region was as valuable as silk, especially in Northern regions. Here is another lesson about regional fur heritage. This time we are going to the East were we’ll discover the truth about Asian clothing traditions. 

Ancient Chinese used fur skin from various wild animals, just like other ancient civilizations and nomadic tribes. At first it was all about protection and practicality, but later as everyone else, they began to skin animals for their social status.  There is even the earliest proof of fur use in Chinese hieroglyph. The popularity growth began during the Warring State Period around 475-221 BC. Fur garments were considerate as the most valuable gifts. They were stored in the warehouse of kings. There were a great symbolism in the quality and the type of fur and Asian clothing.  The wearer’s status could be guessed out of his garments. The most expensive fur belonged to kings and emperors. Of course those with high ranks also looked for soft and high quality clothes. 

Within time the range of Asian clothing and fur became wider. Sheep, fox, deer and of course sable and mink were skinned, sheared for garment purposes. This was the emerging production and market of Chinese garments and accessories. The gap year or era for fur was around 200 BC, when the Han Dynasty came into power, and discovery of silk ( so as other fabric) s was considerate to be the most luxurious revolution of Asian clothing. It was a downturn of Chinese fur market. The Dress code of Royal family changed and the fur was not their main fabric anymore.  However, the northern, more nomadic tribes still used fur. The Northern Asians are associated with fur more than Chinese. In China it was all about silk by that time. The emerging of silk clothing market reached Europe and other continents as well. However, for a long time “the great China wall” hid them from the western world.

The Qing Dynasty ( 1616-1911 AD) was the last imperial kingdom of China. Man tribes for further and colder, northern regions of China migrated, thus fur market regained their popularity again. During that time the royal court came up with complicated dress codes.  Servants of emperor had to know what type of fur garment he has to dress according to the date and season. Several Asian clothing traditions were formed during the ruling of the Quing Dynasty.  As the seasons changed, so did  fur garments. There were many types of emperor fur,  but sable was the most exalted. Just the emperor was allowed to wear this type of fur. When China opened their “borders” for westerners,  the international fur trade began. If we look at Chinese fur fashion today, we will notices its popularity and the influence by Western high fashion trends. However, the new wave of Chinese fashion is rising and it’s not fake anymore.