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Tradition / Video

Meet Ao Luojia, a lady who’s in love with Han Chinese costumes

By Xiao Xinzhu

May 16

Ao Luojia, a designer of plus-sized Han Chinese costumes that imitate the style of clothes worn by women during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), has become an internet sensation after her impressive cosplay photo shoots during China’s Lantern Festival this year.

Ao Luojia, a designer of plus-sized Han Chinese costumes that imitate the style of clothes worn by women during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), has become an internet sensation after her impressive cosplay photo shoots during China’s Lantern Festival this year.

“I saw a piece of female pottery sculpture from the Tang era at Shaanxi History Museum in Xi’an. This inspired me to create the cosplay photo shoots,” Ao said. In contrast to modern beauty standards in China, during the Tang dynasty, women who were plump and voluptuous were the height of beauty. Carrying extra weight was a sign of wealth and status at that time.

A series of photos shows Ao Luojia imitating the style of clothes worn by women during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907). In the pictures she makes exaggerated facial expressions while enjoying Tangyuan (glutinous rice dumplings) for China’s Lantern Festival. [Photo: Weibo.com]
Ao runs an online store on Taobao in Chongqing, selling traditional Han and Tang clothing. She initially helped some friends to make Han costume handicrafts and accessories to sell on Taobao, which piqued her interest and was the spark for her own foray into making Han Chinese costumes.

The reasons that she chose plus-sized Han costumes are twofold; firstly, the market for standard-sized Han Chinese costumes had been saturated; secondly, as Ao Luojia continued to put on weight herself, she thought ‘if I can’t sell my costumes, then I can wear them myself.’

After receiving a lot of praise online, Ao said that she would continue to plan and post photo shoots to showcase the beauty of ancient Chinese clothing during other traditional Chinese festivals, like Mid-Autumn Festival.

Ao Luojia applying Tang Dynasty-style makeup during “China Huafu Day” on April 18th. “Huafu” literally means “Chinese clothing.” [Photo by Xiao Xinzhu/China.org.cn]
Ao confessed that it was hard to keep a steady stream of creative inspiration. “When I see a beautiful pattern in museums or an amazing view out on the street, I always make a note of it.” This is where Ao gets most of her inspiration for new designs. Her previous working experience in different industries such as animation, illustration, cosplay, porcelain and leather crafts helps her designing and making her clothing.

Speaking of Chinese culture, Ao used chopsticks to illustrate a point. “When we eat with chopsticks, we are obviously different from people who use a knife and fork or their hands,” she said. “Our culture is deeply rooted in our life.”

Ao Luojia visiting Shaanxi History Museum during “China Huafu Day” on April 18th. [Photo by Xiao Xinzhu/China.org.cn]
“Han costumes mean everything to me,” she said. Ao believes that people who are interested in Han Chinese costumes, like her, enjoy promoting them because they symbolize something that means so much to the country. “Han Chinese costumes carry a lot of cultural significance and showcase our national identity in a gorgeous and self-assured way,” she said.

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