1890 - 1900s Han Dynasty Chinese Embroidered Wedding Apron Skirt

This is an exquisite, unworn, antique Chinese silk damask wedding skirt (Han) from the late Qing Dynasty (1840-1911). These Chinese skirt styles or mamianqun are often called aprons and are typically comprised of two identical sections, this one having an elaborate embroidered decorated panel on pink silk, a white brocade side panel and a honeycomb pleated or gored panel. Only Han women wore these skirts, not the Manchu women of the ruling Qing dynasty. They were worn overlapping, wrapped around the body and secured through fabric loops and knotted buttons. The two sections are attached to a wide plain waistband, most likely made of cotton or hemp. On formal occasions, Han women wore a half-length jacket accompanied by trousers and paired with a panel skirt or apron. Panels were only embroidered to where the jacket reached the skirt and Han working women often wore trousers without skirts, as did unmarried women. We’ve attached a hand-coloured photograph to show how the garment would have been worn – circa 1900.

The embroidered panels and contracting trims depict flowers, fruits, and butterflies all of which represent auspicious symbols and good luck charms. The flowers represent every season: the lotus in summer, the chrysanthemum in autumn, the plum in winter, and the peony in spring. The butterfly was known as the Chinese Cupid. The birds depicted include the crane, a symbol of longevity; the pheasant, a symbol of wealth and good wishes; and mandarin ducks, a symbol of marital happiness. This is a very beautiful and elaborate example which was almost certainly made for a bride in the latter part of the Qing Dynasty. Condition is absolutely extraordinary, and it has been very carefully preserved. Both panels are remarkably fresh and without damage, thinning or any age markings. Worthy of museum acquisition or for a Chinese costume or textile collector. It has been in Circa’s collection many years and was acquired from a family whose forebears were in the Diplomatic service.

Length - 42.5 in. (107.9 cm)
Color: Multi

Pickup available at CIRCA VINTAGE

Usually ready in 24 hours


Will you set anything aside for me before I come?

We are happy to find anything you may be interested in from our website - please let us know a week in advance. 

We also have an extensive offline collection. If you let us know your size, style, favourite colour to wear and perhaps your budget, we can browse through our archive in advance of your appointment. 

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Clients may wish to bring modern shapewear when trying on garments from certain eras, especially the 1950s. Vintage clothing was often worn with undergarments that shaped the waist and as such is tailored for them.

We have a huge variety of slip dresses and petticoats to complete your look; many of which are also for sale.

You may also wish to bring your favourite footwear. We often find a classic pair of nude shoes work well when trying on, or a pair in gold or silver.

Do you have a price range?

Many of our lower-priced pieces (under £150) are not available to buy online. Our prices range from £80 - £600 for separates. Dresses start at around £150 and go up to £2,500 for the very best antique pieces and designer vintage. Our bridalwear ranges from £300 - £3,000.

Can I bring anyone with me?

Yes but please do let us know the size of your party in advance.

Where can I get alterations?

We offer some alterations in house. Should you need alterations we cannot provide, we can refer you to one of our tried and trusted tailors.

Do you have an after-care service?

We will advise you on the best way to clean and preserve your vintage pieces and can also recommend trusted local dry cleaners.

Can I cancel my appointment?

You are free to cancel but please do give us as much notice as possible. If you cancel less than 24 hours before your appointment, you will be invoiced a late cancellation fee of £25.

Where's the showroom?

Our address is Circa Vintage, 87A Lansdowne Way London SW8 2PB

Upon arrival, buzz the 87A button on the gate or call us 020 7736 5038 to let you in.

Do you have parking?

We offer free, secure, off-street parking but it is a tight squeeze – so do let us know in advance if you will be needing this and we can make sure that there is space available.

How do I get there by public transport?


Stockwell (7 min walk) - Northern and Victoria Lines

Nine Elms (9 min walk) – Northern Line


Wandsworth Road (13 min walk) – Westbound to Clapham Junction / Eastbound to Dalston Junction

What payment methods do you accept?

Cash, credit/debit card, bank transfer, contactless, Paypal