Do you know the history of bags in China

June 05, 2024

Hello, today I want to talk to you about the development history of bags in China.


Including suitcases, wallets, key bags, functional bags, handbags, backpacks, school bags, shoulder bags, briefcases, shoulder bags, etc. Not only are they used to store personal items, but they also reflect a person's identity, economic status, and personality.



In Chinese history, the earliest bun was called naan, which can be called a lotus bag. Nang means a bag. Generally speaking, it means a small bag used by ancient people to carry small items.

The earliest clothes of Chinese ancestors were long clothes with wide sleeves and no pockets. Some items that must be carried with you, such as money, seals, handkerchiefs, etc., can only be stored in this bag. When in use, it can be carried by hand or on the shoulder. Therefore, it is also called a holding bag or a carrying bag. The materials used to make bags in different periods of history were different, and the uses and users also changed accordingly.

The earliest materials for making lotus pouches were mostly animal skins. A sheepskin lotus pouch from the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period unearthed in the Subashi Tomb in Shanshan, Xinjiang, China, is the earliest existing object in China. In addition to holding small items, the lotus pouch also has the following special uses: storing seals, military tokens, and spices.


In ancient China, lotus pouches were a symbol of status.


During the Han Dynasty, people felt that it was inconvenient to carry or carry things all the time. A pouch hung around the waist appeared and became a custom, called a side pouch. This was the prototype of the purse in the future. Officials in the Han Dynasty had a system of wearing seals and ribbons. The seals granted by the court could be hung in the pouch on the side of the robe. They were hung on the belt with gold and silver hooks, reflecting their status. Animal heads were embroidered on the pouch. The second rank and above were embroidered with gold threads, the third rank with gold and silver threads, the fourth rank with silver threads, and the fifth rank with colored threads. Different shapes and colors represent different official positions.

It is worth noting that the trend of women wearing handbags began to emerge during the Cao Wei period.


By the Tang Dynasty, it was natural to carry a purse. It was similar to the way modern people carry wallets. In addition, the decorative function of people's purses in the Tang Dynasty became increasingly prominent. In terms of materials, they were not only made of animal fur but also smooth and bright silk fabrics. And colorful patterns were embroidered on the purses. The overall shape of the bag was no longer a regular square or rectangle. There were circles and ovals. The patterns were complex and simple. Flowers, birds, animals, insects, landscapes, people, auspiciousness, and poems were all embroidered on the bags to highlight the decorative function. With the cultural openness of the Tang Dynasty, the purse continued to develop.


The term "purse" officially appeared in the Song Dynasty. Yuan Mei's random notes recorded: "Purple lotus is not a purse." This term is also commonly seen in Yuan Dynasty dramas and Ming and Qing Dynasty novels. To this day, the purse is still synonymous with the wallet.


After the Ming and Qing Dynasties, purses became more diversified, and there were many surviving items, usually made of silk fabrics.


In some large and medium-sized cities, there are workshops specializing in the production of such decorative purses, and the entire industrial chain is perfected.

With the recovery of the national economy and construction. Due to the restrictions of the times, the Chinese at that time used pragmatism combined with military design as the direction of bag use. The military green canvas bag, a product of the times, is still a memory in the minds of our parents.


 After the reform and opening up, with the economic development in the 70s and 80s, bags have also developed rapidly along with China's economy. Bags have become a symbol of cultural status. New materials and new designs are constantly introduced, and Chinese culture and foreign culture are constantly integrated. Each era has its trend. The world is changing so fast, and bags are also affected by this fast-changing trend, showing a variety of looks, retro style, simple style, Chinese style, etc.




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