One of the most enduring pieces of oriental inspire fashion garb has to be the distinctive yellow turban. Many wearers of the piece of headgear however do not have the knowledge of its history and therefore they cannot appreciate the deep historical significance of the turbans. It is for this reason that the following guide to the events that lead to the ubiquity of the turban in ancient China has been put together.
The yellow turban goes way back to a rebellion that rose against the Ling dynasty in the dying years of the second century AD. There was great dissatisfaction in the Northern Chinese provinces with the empire advancing unpopular agrarian policies in areas where famine was rampant. The rebellion marked a crucial point in the evolution of the Taoism school of thought.
The rebels were inspired by three firebrand brothers who were all Taoist priests in the Shandong province. The brothers preached a new brand of Taoism and they offered a form of faith healing which centered around the concept that the ailing person had to confess their sins. The most charismatic of the three brothers was Jiao who was affectionately called the ‘General from Heaven’.
Under the leadership of Jiao, the peasants were transformed into fearsome warriors, bound by his inspirational belief of a better era ahead after their certain victory. The peasants were especially taken in by his descriptions of a better era when they had razed the Han dynasty to the ground. He would tell them that a new era would be heralded by a whole year when the entire sky would turn and remain yellow. This was the inspiration for the distinctive headwear.
The discontent against the regime was at its most virulent height in three distinct areas especially to the north of the Yellow river where the Zhang brothers lived. It was also very powerful in certain areas surrounding the modern day Beijing city. Other pockets of rebellion were in the Nanyang and Yinchuan areas. The latter two areas of revolt were causing a great concern in the heart of the empire.
When the revolution was at its height in the Northern Provinces, there seemed to be nothing the empire could do to stop the over 360,000 rebels from running the kingdom to the ground. This was a state of affairs that only lasted up until the day Liu Yan, the emperor’s half brother rose to become the commander of the empire’s army. His first major project was to enlist over a hundred thousand conscripts from the peaceful southern provinces and lead a march to quell the northern rebels.
Liu Yan proved inspirational enough as to return the momentum to the forces loyal to the empire. Yan used this advantage to ruthlessly bring an end to the rebellion. Soon the Zhang brothers were captured and killed. The rebellion continued to foment listlessly for nearly ten years but by 205 AD, the empire had managed to exterminate all the yellow turbans.
The western world of fashion and style has become especially receptive to ideas inspired by oriental traditions. There are many examples that can be used to illustrate this emerging trend but none have gained as much interest as the distinctive yellow turban. Read all about its rich history and you will be surprised at how the idea has come to infiltrate western fashion with such alacrity.
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