Food and Clothing
Cuisine and apparel
The food that one consumed and the clothes that one wore in Song China were
largely dictated by one's status and social class. The main food staples in the
diet of the lower classes remained rice, pork, and salted fish; their clothing
materials were made of hempen or cotton cloths, restricted to a color standard
of black and white. Trousers were the acceptable form of attire for farming
peasants, soldiers, artisans, and merchants, although wealthy merchants might
choose to wear more ornate clothing and male blouses that came down below the
waist. Acceptable apparel for scholar-officials was rigidly confined to a social
hierarchic ranking system. However, as time went on this rule of rank-graded
apparel for officials was not as strictly enforced as it was in the beginning of
the dynasty. Each official was able to display his awarded status by wearing
different-colored traditional silken robes that hung to the ground around his
feet, specific types of headgear, and even specific styles of girdles that
displayed his graded-rank of officialdom.
Women in the Song period wore long dresses, blouses that came down to the knee, skirts and jackets with long or short sleeves, while women from wealthy families could wear purple scarves around their shoulders. The main difference in women's apparel from that of men was that it was fastened on the left, not on the right.
There is a multitude of existing restaurant and tavern menus and listed entrées for feasts, banquets, festivals, and carnivals during the Song period, all of which reveal a very diverse and lavish diet for those of the upper class. In their meals they could choose from a wide variety of meats, including shrimp, geese, duck, mussel, shellfish, fallow deer, hare, partridge, pheasant, francolin, quail, fox, badger, clam, crab, and many others. Dairy products were absent from Chinese cuisine and culture altogether, beef was rarely consumed since the bull was a valuable draft animal, and dog meat was absent from the diet of the wealthy, although the poor could choose to eat dog meat if necessary (yet it was not part of their regular diet). People also consumed dates, raisins, jujubes, pears, plums, apricots, pear juice, lychee-fruit juice, honey and ginger drinks, pawpaw juice, spices and seasonings of Sichuan pepper, ginger, pimento, soy sauce, oil, sesame oil, salt, and vinegar. The common diet of the poor was pork, salted fish, and rice.
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