Bring Mystery Dunhuang Culture into Modern Fashion essay

Culture is a pivotal concept in the life of a people since it represents the fundamentals of who they are and what they believe in. By definition, culture can be considered simply as asset of beliefs and practices that set a people apart from the rest of the world. It is by these cultures that the populations are able to identify themselves and thus acknowledge where they belong as individuals and wholly as a people. China has for many years been unique and culturally isolated from the rest of the world such that despite the imperialistic effects of globalization and modernization the nation was able to retain most of their culture and tradition to remain as one of the richest cultures in the modern world. The problem however is that there is a lot about the Chinese culture that is yet to be explored and incorporated in the modern context of culture in the Eastern world. The Dunhuang Culture is considered as one of the many components of the Chinese culture. Dunhuang is located in the northwestern region of China and it has a ricj history of interactions between Ancient China and the rest of the world. The region was considered a frontier city and in many instances through history, it was occupied by monks and non-Han Chinese people thus creating an interesting and curious culture. The idea to protect Dunhuang culture by the Chinese government is noble, but its influence can flourish and past down to other generations if the Dunhuang culture is fussed into modern fashions.


This paper focuses on developing the Dunhuang Culture and finding ways for the people in modern society and fashion to recognize and appreciate it too.

Dunhuang History

Dunhuang is a mysterious ancient city in northwest China, and it was a part of the famous ancient trade route known as the Silk Road . The city was the first stop for merchants on their way into China from the west. The current Dunhuang is merely a reconstruction of the actual city based on the findings of archaeologists and among famous historical features in the area are the Silk Road, the Mogao Caves and the Yangguan Pass among others. Furthermore, according to Wei-Cheng, Dunhuang was the main trading city at the Chinese northwestern border and it connected two arms of the Silk Road . These roads are currently referred to as the Yumenguan Pass and the Yangguan Pass. Almost every trader in China or doing business in China passed through the area thus making Dunhuang one of the first international trade areas in Chinese history as it connected Ancient China to the rest of the world. With all the exposure that this area was getting from the international traders, it can be appreciated that the culture was rather modernized by incorporating some aspects of the western cultures. The people of Dunghuang were more open-minded and able to accommodate the foreign traders and their peculiar cultures and at some point, they took up bits and pieces of the foreign cultures as well . This is probably what sets the Dunhuang culture apart from that of the rest of China. The city also has a rich history of Buddhism with the Mogao Caves featuring paintings that represent much about the culture with immortals being a great part of their belief system.

Dunhuang Nowadays

Currently, Dunhuang is considered as a historical and cultural city while the Mogao Caves are a part of the world heritage as declared by UNESCO. Most of the city has been reconstructed based on the archaeological findings and ancient research on the area . The area not only boats of fertile soils and great agricultural lands but also a great tourism industry with a relatively modernized populace owing to the diversified population that lives there.

Dunhuang Local Custom

The current Dunhuang population constitutes of many ethnicities and religions living in one city. There are people from China, Tibet and Turkey as well as from other parts of the world thus making the local customs more of a concoction drawn from many cultures . Considering that the region is a famous tourist location, they also have many tourists most of the time thus making even more difficult to place or solidly define the local custom. In terms of religion, there are Buddhists, Christians, and many other traditional religions.

Dunhuang Art

One of the most popularized aspects of Dunhuang is the art. Other than the tourist attractions, most people have come to associate Dunhuan with impressive art from the historic eras. The monks were particularly meticulous in their paintings in the caves. Art is one of the most used mediums when it comes to preserving and sharing the history of the Dunhuang city. Other than the caves and the great location, most tourists also go to the city to see the incredible cave paintings and to appreciate local art.

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Critical Analysis of Examples

Dunhuang Culture in the Context of Eastern Chinese Art Culture

Like the rest of the Chinese art, Dunhuang art is an expression of the way of life that the people had at the time the art was being created. This means that the art is an expression of cultural identity within the specific contexts of the artists in question. For Dunhuang, most of the currently known art would be the cave paintings, grottoes and frescoes that were done by the Buddhists at the time . This explains why most of the work is more religious than social, with the immortals featuring in most of the work. Dunhuang especially stands out in the way the subjects of the works are always deeply religious, as evidence of the artists’ devotion to their religious beliefs.

Illustration of the Collaboration between Chinese Culture and Modern Fashion

Fashion, like art, is considered a great medium for expressing a culture. This means that just like the artists are capable of immortalizing a given culture, fashion designers can also borrow some aspects of culture and incorporate them in modern designs for a modern audience. This practice is often considered risky, but it has worked severally with Pei Guo being one of the most successful examples with Chinese culture . This designer is very famous and most of her work is categorized as Haute Couture that incorporates Chinese culture with the modern fashion.

Comparison between Chinese Culture and the Using Of Other Cultures in Fashion

One weakness in the Chinese culture is the fact that the people have been very receptive of foreign fashion that they seem to have forgotten their own culture. Most Chinese people dress like people from the west and they do not recognize traditional attire such as the Qipao or any other traditional wear. Countries such as neighboring Korea and Japan have retained their traditional fashion with the Japanese Kimono and Korean Hanbok, both still being relatively popular in their respective country. The fact that these cultural dressing is still embraced locally makes it easy for them to be embraced globally as part of the Japanese or Korean cultural identity. This means that if the Chinese people are to be appreciated in the global fashion industry they will have to start embracing cultural aspects in their fashion as well.

The Analysis of the Phenomenon about the Failure of Chinese Fashion Culture

The Chinese people were for many years isolated from the rest of the world in terms of their culture. With globalization however, western culture became readily accessible and the people of China were more than ready and willing to embrace the foreign cultures as part of their need to be modernized. Modernization for these people simply implied leaving their culture behind and embracing anything that is not of Chinese origin. This explains the Chinese fashion market’s fascination with foreign designer brands to the point that they have an influx of counterfeits just to appreciate the fashion . The fascination with the west is supposed to be a phase in the nation’s awakening as they get to explore other cultures and eventually get to appreciate their own . This however may require some prodding from the fashion industry if it is to happen soon.

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How To Successfully Bring Dunhuang Culture into Modern Chinese Fashion and Make People Accept

First, it is important for the Chinese fashion industry to explore and understand what the Chinese people think about fashion in general and Chinese fashion in particular. This will help to set the pace for what the industry needs to do in order to become relevant and functional in the Chinese fashion market. The Chinese fashion designers need to get to a point where they are famous in China and not just in New York or Paris. Once the local fashion market is fully understood, there is a need to also understand the global modern fashion market to find out how the Chinese culture can fit in. The modern fashion industry is more global and thus considers the views and expectations of the rest of the world when it comes to their perspective on Chinese culture. It must be appreciated in this context that Chinese has one of the richest cultures in the world and it will be expected that any modern representation of the culture will be significantly unique and impressive, with a deep story to tell to the audience. Once this is covered, there is the need to popularize Dunhuang culture to the world. A good platform would be the social media where people from all over the world can access the information but the industry would have to consider holding themed shows in all the major cities in the fashion world. The main idea here would be to get everyone who pays attention to fashion to learn about the new Dunhuang art designs in the fashion industry . The marketing in this case will have to be open in terms of the age bracket since the fashion industry attracts enthusiasts from all age groups.

The Design

To be unique and to represent the Dunhuang culture, the designs do not necessarily have to be completely traditional and cultural in technique. The designers simply have to incorporate a relevant aspect of the targeted culture in the design. This could be a print, or a threading technique or even the fabric type. The idea is to bring out an aspect of the culture in question, distinctly and elegantly in the finished design. Most of the most famous modern designs with a touch of culture have minimal and practical aspects of the culture rather than the entire traditional design.

Comparison between Ancient Environment & Modern Environment

Fashion is not just about expression one’s identity but rather comfort and relevance within one’s environment. This is especially why it may not be practical to reconstruct a design that was used in Ancient China to be worn in the present times. One needs to consider both the climate change and the shift in social contexts. Designs are always limited by time and when the environment is considered, they can be made practical and thus timeless. It can be noted for example that in Ancient China, the fabric was mostly stiff and very tough, while in the present China these would be very uncomfortable and unacceptable for most people . In order to make the new designs relevant, there is a need to consider a number of factors that are presently critical in the modern fashion industry such as the choice of fabric and cost as well. Popularizing a cultural design requires the consideration of the targeted customers who are most likely to make the designs famous. Local and international celebrities in this case would be the best choice for the designers like how Guo Pei has taken advantage of Rihanna to market her couture designs.

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All cultures in this world should be respected and treasured because they remind the people of their origin and value as humans. Incorporating them in fashion is one of the ways in which the culture can be immortalized and celebrated generation after generation. The Chinese people have greatly forgotten their culture considering that they currently live like the Western people with modern habits like fast food addiction and spending a lot of time online. They have also taken up other cultures in the way they dress, with some of the popular fashion designer brands in the country being French, American, Italian and even English. This means that there is a significant problem when it comes to the cultural orientation of the Chinese such that other than the fact that they speak Chinese, they are barely Chinese. The fashion industry should be able to incorporate aspects of Chinese culture like the Dunhuang culture in to the fashion designs as a way of reminding the Chinese people and the rest of the world about their rich history and unique culture. The famous cave paintings are for example a record of the lives and beliefs of the Buddhists at the time and they tell a story that should not be forgotten.

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Bring Mystery Dunhuang Culture into Modern Fashion essay

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