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p'ao

wide-sleeved robe of a style worn by Chinese men and women from the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) to the end of the Ming dynasty (1644). The pao was girdled about the waist and fell in voluminous folds around the feet. From the Tang period (618-907), certain designs, colours, and accessories were used to distinguish rank; the emperor, for example, wore a dark-coloured pao on which the 12 imperial symbols were displayed, and the pao worn by officials was red with large squares containing symbolic birds or animals ("mandarin squares") on the breast.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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