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The Inside Story of the Zhongshan Suit, Also Known as the Mao Suit

Each of the design elements conveys a specific meaning based on the ceremonial formalities of the Zhou Dynasty. (Image: hongdu1956.com)
Each of the design elements conveys a specific meaning based on the ceremonial formalities of the Zhou Dynasty. (Image: hongdu1956.com)

Do you know the story behind the design of the Zhongshan suit? Even the number of pockets is meaningful. Dr. Sun Yat-sen became the first president and founding father of the Republic of China after the Xinhai Revolution in 1911.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen. (Image: NTDTV)

Dr. Sun Yat-sen. (Image: NTDTV)

The Zhongshan suit became popular at that time.

The Chinese democratic government modified it, and announced that it would be the official ceremonial dress.

The collar of the suit jacket stands upright, with an edge to edge front. There is no break seam in the back of the jacket. There are five buttons down the front, and three buttons on each sleeve. The jacket also features four pockets, and each of these design elements conveys a specific meaning based on the ceremonial formalities of the Zhou Dynasty as recorded in The Book of Changes.

The Zhongshan suit later became known as the “Mao suit,” as this is what Mao Zedong usually wore in public.

Chinese traditions are represented in the uniform’s design. (Image: NTDTV)

Chinese traditions are represented in the uniform’s design. (Image: NTDTV)

  • Using one piece of material for the back of the jacket with no break seam represents the reunification of the entire nation.
  • Four pockets on the jacket signify the morals of the four virtues: Propriety, justice, honesty, and honor.
  • The shape of the pocket covers represents a mountain, symbolizing respect for culture and the promotion of education.
  • Four buttons on the pocket covers represents the four common law rights to be enjoyed by citizens: Election and dismissal of the government, and the making and reviewing of laws.
  • The five buttons on the front of the suit represent the five constitutional rights, which are administration, legislation, judiciary, examination, and supervision.
  • The three sleeve buttons represent the principles of nationalism, democracy, and the right to work for your livelihood.

Translated research by Audrey Wang and Kathy

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