The Chinese tunic suit, also known as Zhongshan suit, is a Chinese traditional style of male attire named after Sun Zhongshan (also Romanized as Sun Yat-Sen). Many Chinese leaders like to wear this suit, like Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-Lai, Deng Xiaoping, etc.. Because Chinese famous politician Mao Tse-tung always wore the Zhongshan suit in public, many westerners also called it as Mao suit, but actually this name is not popular in China. Zhongshan suit and suits which derive from Zhongshan suit became the main style before Reform and Openness of China. Chinese leaders and North Korea leaders still like to wear Zhongshan suit during important state ceremonies and functions.
Zhongshan suit is popular for Mr. Sun, who is the first one wearing this kind of suit. There is a rule that a certain class civil official must wear the Zhongshan suit in inaugurations to show obedience to Dr. Sun. With the promotion of China reform and opening policy, western suit and other garments gradually replaced Zhongshan suit and became popular. Although Zhongshan suit faded in folk, Chinese state leaders are still fond of wearing the Chinese tunic suit to attend important state events, like national day parade. President Hu Jingtao wore the Chinese tunic suit attending the 60th birthday of People’s Republic of China in 2009. The NPC and CPPCC held in 2016. A leader Mr. Xiu Fujin said he has proposed Zhongshan suit as a national formal dress.
Although the Republic of China was founded in 1912, Chinese wearing style was still based on Manchu dress (Qipao for women, Changshan for men) at that time, which had been deeply influenced by Qing dynasty. Qing dynasty failed to defend China against the aggression of imperialists, besides, the Qing standed low in technology and science compared to the West, which made the majority Han Chinese revolutionaries overthrow the Qing Dynasty. The old Chinese dress is unwelcomed by the elite even before the founding of the Republic. Changshan matching with western hat, as the development of Chinese dress, becomes a new dress. The Zhongshan suit is exactly a combination of western and eastern styles.
Characteristics and Connotations
Zhongshan suit became popular with western suit for its conciseness and utility in the 1911 Revolution. The government of Republic of China issued a public order that the Zhongshan suit was the formal dress. Minor stylistic changes of the Zhongshan suit would be developed, and a revolutionary and patriotic significance will be assigned to it. Four pockets, five center-front buttons, three cuff-buttons, all of these own their meanings from a Chinese ancient classic I Ching.
Mr. Sun absorbed widespread quintessence of Chinese and Western clothing thoughts working as important resources for the Chinese tunic suit, which includes turtleneck and four pockets and is named Zhongshan suit. Since the designed was made, Zhongshan suit was widely spread, and became one of standard garment Chinese men fond.
It’s a Combination of Western Suit and Chinese Culture
The four pockets represent the Four Virtues: Propriety, Rightness, Integrity, and Shame, which cite in the Chinese classic Guanzi.
The five center-front buttons represent that the separation of five powers cited in the constitution of the Republic of China–legislation, supervision, examination, administration and jurisdiction.
The three cuff-buttons symbolize Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People: Nationalism, Democracy, and People's Livelihood.
A single piece symbolizes China's unity and peace.