Dudou

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Dudou
The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis - Embroidered infant undergarment.jpg
A child's doudou from the early 20th century, missing its strings
Chinese name
Chinese肚兜
Literal meaningbelly wrap
Doudu
Chinese兜肚
Literal meaning[thing that] wraps the belly
Doudou
Chinese兜兜
Literal meaning"wrappy"
"little wrap"
Vietnamese name
Vietnameseyếm
A Vietnamese woman wearing her yem as a blouse

A dudou—also known by other names—is a traditional Chinese form of the bodice, originally worn as an undershirt with medicinal properties. With the opening of China, it is sometimes encountered in Western and modern Chinese fashion as a sleeveless and backless halter-top blouse.

Name[edit]

In Ancient Chinese, referred to a kind of helmet or hood.[1] By the time of the development of the dudou, it had taken on extended senses of encasing or enwrapping something as in a hood, scarf, or loose parcel.[2][n 1] Dùdōu may thus be understood as Chinese for "belly wrap" or "cover",[3][4] referring to its early use to flatten the breasts and, within traditional Chinese medicine, to preserve stomach qi. Using the same characters, it is also known as a doudu[2][5][6] or doudou.[7][n 2] The latter form is diminutive and is particularly used for the dudous worn by Chinese children.[9]

Its various Chinese names are typically left untranslated in English.[10] In Chinese sources, the dudou is sometimes mistranslated as a "bellyband",[11][12][10][13] which more commonly refers to a variety of other devices including a horse's harness[14] and a compression garment used by expectant mothers.[15] The oddity arises from the similarity of the dudou's purpose (though not construction or appearance) with the Japanese haramaki. In the 19th century, it was translated or glossed as a Chinese "stomacher" or "corset".[8] The dudou is also sometimes translated or glossed as an "apron"[10][16][17][18] or "bib"[6] owing to its similar appearance.

History[edit]

The dudou's original development is sometimes credited to Yang Yuhuan, the curvy consort of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang still remembered as one of China's Four Beauties,[19] but the importance of the stomach as the origin of the body's blood and qi in traditional Chinese medicine[20] has meant that variations of the undershirt are found as early as the Qin's tunic-like xièyī (t 褻衣, s 亵衣).[21] The dudou proper was popularized under the Ming dynasty beginning in the mid-1300s[16] around the time of the Black Death.[18][n 3] Versions of it were worn by female babies in medieval China until age three.[9] The medicinal aspect of the dudou was underscored by its common incorporation of small pockets to hold snatches of ginger, musk, or other herbs intended to boost the stomach's qi.[5] Its red form is also held to ward off evil spirits in Chinese folk religions.[3]

The dudou inspired similar fashions elsewhere in East Asia, including the Vietnamese yem. Within China, it has remained a traditional item of Chinese clothing,[23] particularly in traditional wedding attire.[24] Generally, however, the dudou fell out of favor towards the end of the Qing as part of the drive to modernize the country, displaced by European-style corsets and bras.[25] After a decade of public debate, the use of dudous for flattening breasts was formally outlawed, beginning in Guangdong in 1927.[26] This change in fashion has sometimes been linked to the rise in breast cancer occurring around the same time.[18] Dudous first became an object of Western fashion in the year 2000, when variations of the Chinese design appeared in the spring collections of Versace,[27][n 4] Versus,[28] and Miu Miu.[29] It has since become a mainstay of some Chinese-influenced fashion designers.[30] This development inspired some Chinese women, including Zhang Ziyi,[19] to begin wearing the dudou as an article of outerwear,[23][17][31] although many older Chinese remain (sometimes sternly) disapproving of this development.[3][32]

Design[edit]

The typical design of a dudou consists of a single rectangular, rhomboidal, diamond-shaped piece of fabric which covers the breasts and belly, tied to the neck and waist with attached strings.[23] It is thus a form of halter top. Richer women use silk yarn or brocade while the poor make do with cotton.[25]

Popular colors are red, pink, and green and they are often embroidered with flowers, butterflies, or Mandarin ducks.[23] Formerly popular designs included bats (homophonous with "happiness" in Chinese), peaches ("longevity"), guavas (whose many seeds caused it to represent fertility), and virtuous expressions.[25]

Under the Ming and Qing, dudous were solely items of underwear and were used to flatten women's breasts,[23] similar to a gentle corset.[19] Wealthier families used bronze, silver, or gold chains instead of silk thread.[25] The first dudous were simple rectangles, but by the Qing they had been turned to form a diamond shape, exposing more of the shoulders.[25]

Some variants have a collar which is lowered around the head. Western-influenced dudous may be made of other fabrics, including leather or transparent cloth.[23]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In modern Chinese, it is most often encountered as yīdōu (衣兜), a word for pockets in clothing.
  2. ^ In the 19th century, dudou and doudu were also irregularly transliterated as tu-teu and teu-tu.[2][8]
  3. ^ The modern form of the dudou appears in Chinese movies anachronistically throughout all of Chinese history, as in Feng Xiaogang's 2006 Tang-era Banquet.[22]
  4. ^ Vogue described the dudou-influenced pieces as "mischievous handkerchief blouses".[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baxter, William Hubbard III; et al. (2014), Baxter–Sagart Old Chinese Reconstruction, Ver. 1.1 (PDF), Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, p. 23.
  2. ^ a b c Williams, S. Wells (1889), ",兜", A Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language, Arranged According to the Wu-Fang Yuen Yin, with the Pronunciation of the Characters as Heard in Peking, Canton, Amoy, and Shanghai, Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press.
  3. ^ a b c Zhao Jianhua, The Chinese Fashion Industry: An Ethnographic Approach, London: Bloomsbury Academic, p. 1.
  4. ^ Pitts-Taylor, Victoria (2008), "Breasts", Cultural Encyclopedia of the Body, Vol. I, Westport: Greenwood Publishing, p. 46.
  5. ^ a b "The Ancient Art of Women's Underwear", China Daily, 4 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b Lewandowski, Elizabeth J., "doudu", The Complete Costume Dictionary, p. 91.
  7. ^ Gao Wanlong; et al. (2012), A Handbook of Chinese Cultural Terms, Trafford Publishing, p. 51.
  8. ^ a b Williams, S. Wells (1889), "'肚", A Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language, Arranged According to the Wu-Fang Yuen Yin, with the Pronunciation of the Characters as Heard in Peking, Canton, Amoy, and Shanghai, Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press.
  9. ^ a b Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2014), "Children's Clothing, Girls", World Clothing and Fashion, Vol. I, M.E. Sharpe.
  10. ^ a b c Liu, Eric T.; et al. (2014), Translating Chinese Culture, Abingdon: Routledge, p. 68.
  11. ^ "肚兜", Baidu Baike, Beijing: Baidu, retrieved 23 January 2016. (in Chinese)
  12. ^ "肚兜", Baike.com, Beijing: Hudong, retrieved 18 October 2015. (in Chinese)
  13. ^ "Dudou", Cultural China, Shanghai: Shanghai Xinhong Cultural Development.
  14. ^ "ˈbelly-band, n.", Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1887.
  15. ^ Whitmore, Elizabeth (2010), "Health: Belly Bands", How Stuff Works.
  16. ^ a b Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2014), "Brassieres", World Clothing and Fashion, Vol. I, M.E. Sharpe.
  17. ^ a b Farrer, James; et al. (2015), Shanghai Nightscapes, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 198.
  18. ^ a b c Harding, Fred (2006), Breast Cancer, Aylesbury: Tekline Publishing, p. 284.
  19. ^ a b c "History of Dudou", Chinese Fashion.
  20. ^ Maciocia, Giovanni, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, 3d ed., Edinburgh: Elsevier, p. 194.
  21. ^ "Secrets of Women's Underwear in Ancient China", China Culture, Ministry of Culture, 2003.
  22. ^ Chen Yachen (2012), "The Chinese Hamlet's Two Women and Shakespeare's Chinese Sisters: Qing Nü and Wan'er in The Banquet", Women in Chinese Martial Arts Films of the New Millennium, Plymouth: Lexington Books, p. 120.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Xu Xiaomin (20 June 2000), "Do You Dare to Wear a Dudou?", Shanghai Star.
  24. ^ Bao Jiemin (1994), Marriage among Ethnic Chinese in Bangkok, Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 155.
  25. ^ a b c d e Lu Chang (30 October 2003), "Keeping Abreast of Change", Shanghai Star.
  26. ^ French, Paul; et al. (2010), Fat China, London: Anthem Press.
  27. ^ a b "Spring 2000 Ready-to-Wear: Versace", Vogue, 2000.
  28. ^ "Spring 2000 Ready-to-Wear: Versus Versace", Vogue, 2000.
  29. ^ "Spring 2000 Ready-to-Wear: Miu Miu", Vogue, 2000.
  30. ^ Eceiza, Laura (2009), "Blanc de Chine", Atlas of Fashion Designers, Beverly: Rockport Publishers, pp. 107–111.
  31. ^ Farrer, James (2002), Opening Up: Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in Shanghai, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 311.
  32. ^ Qiu Xiaolong (2009), The Mao Case, New York: Minotaur Books, p. 2.

External links[edit]