The Zhongshan suit was designed by Sun Zhongshan (or Sun Yat-sen) by combining the Western-style suit and Chinese clothes, which has become extremely popular among the Chinese people since its inception, especially during the Republic of China (1911-1949), and it features four pockets, five bigger central buttons in the front and three smaller cuff-buttons on either sleeve.
Symbolic Meanings of the Zhongshan Suit
The Zhongshan suit has strong symbolic meanings according to Sun Zhongshan's design concept of the Republic of China.
The four pockets represent four virtues (benevolence, loyalty, probity and shame). The five bigger buttons symbolize the separation of five powers (administration, legislation, jurisdiction, examination and supervision). The three smaller cuff-buttons on either sleeve represent "the Three People's Principles" (Nationalism, Democracy and the People's Livelihood, as put forward by Sun Yat-sen). The two inverted pen-rack-shaped pocket flaps symbolize flourishing the state with culture rather than with military power. The turn-down closed collar represents the meticulous attitude towards managing state affairs, and the one-piece suit represents the unity of China.
Future of the Zhongshan Suit
The Zhongshan suit was also called Mao Suit because Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC), frequently wore it on important occasions such as the founding ceremony of the PRC and inspecting troops, and almost every Chinese male adult wore it in the 1960s and 1970s. It has become a tradition for following chairmen of the central military committee of the PRC (such as Deng Xiaoping and Hu Jintao) to wear it when inspecting troops.
It seems that the Zhongshan suit has stepped down from the historical stage since the opening up of China and its reform in 1978, because more and more Chinese people prefer wearing the Western-style suits, however, it has found a new way in movies and TV plays, and many movie stars such as Jet Li, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen wear Zhongshan suits in their works.
A number of versions of Zhongshan suits have been launched by the world of Chinese fashion in recent years, which are embroidered with various patterns, including dragons, phoenixes, plum blossoms, orchids, bamboos and chrysanthemums, and they're favored by the Chinese and foreigners alike.
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