A Bite of China

Hanfu-traditional chinese clothing

by Stella on 2016-04-11 17:07:17

Hanfu refers to the pre-17th century traditional clothing of the Han Chinese, the predominant ethnic group of China. Hanfu encompasses all types of traditional clothing worn by the Han Chinese ethnic group. As such, it has a history as long as the history of the Han Chinese people. Hanfu was eliminated by Manchu invaders by force in the 17th century, and is largely unknown in China today, except among a small but vocal group of people advocating the revival of Hanfu as a Chinese national costume.


History of Hanfu

According to Chinese tradition, Hanfu can be traced back to the Yellow Emperor, a great sage king of ancient China ruling in the 27th century BC. Hanfu itself has a recorded history of more than 3000 years. It was worn by Han Chinese people from the semi-legendary Xia Dynasty (c. 21st century BC - 16th century BC) all the way to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The traditional dress of many Asian countries have been influenced by Hanfu, especially those of Japan and Korea.


Hanfu was regarded by Han Chinese as a very important part of their culture. The wearing of appropriate styles of Hanfu was an important part of courteous refined behaviour. Confucius considered Hanfu a very important part of Chinese ceremony and ritual and many of his quotations contain references to Hanfu.

The Disappearance of Hanfu

Hanfu disappeared at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Qing Dynasty was founded not by Han Chinese who form the overwhelming majority of the population of China proper, but by the Manchus. Taking advantage of the political instability and frequent popular rebellions convulsing China, the highly organized military forces of the Manchus swept into the Ming capital of Beijing in 1644 (which itself had earlier fallen to rebel forces under Li Zicheng), and formed the Qing Dynasty.

The Manchus foresaw that they would have great difficulty ruling the Han Chinese, who outnumbered them vastly and had a more sophisticated culture. Soon after the takeover of China proper, the Manchus forced the Han Chinese men to adopt Manchu hairstyle (the braid) and Manchu-style clothing(Qipao and Tangzhuang). There was enormous resistance to these policies, especially against the braid, which required shaving the entire top front half of the head. (Chinese traditional dictated that removing hair was against filial piety because one received one's hair from one's parents.) 


Popular uprisings flaired up immediately, but those were put down brutally. Up to 30 to 50 million Han Chinese people may have perished in total as a result of the Manchu invasion and conquest. Enforcement of the policies was swift, brutal, and effective. Hanfu was replaced by Manchu-style clothing. Hanfu was still permited for women, however without the traditional support of the palace, women started replacing their hanfu clothing with styles that were influenced by the imperial court and Hanfu was completly gone within a century of Qing rule.


After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Manchu dress and the braid disappeared quickly in favour of western-style dress. Today most Han Chinese wear western-style clothing, and Han Chinese clothing is largely unknown. Recent attempts by Hanfu advocates in China to wear Hanfu outdoors have provoked curious reactions from onlookers, many of them mistaking Hanfu for Japanese dress.

However, there is a small but vocal movement in China to revive Han Chinese clothing as a Chinese national custom.


Description of Hanfu

Shenyi is a kind of full-length, one-piece robe which links the Yi and Chang together to wrap up the body. It is cut separately but sewn together. Shenyi was named because when it was worn "the body was deeply wrapped up".

Parts of Shenyi:

Jin: the front of upper garment

Jiaoling Youren: "Crossed collars, tying to the right." This is the standard collar style of hanfu. For both men and women, always overlap the right side of the hanfu with the left side. The opposite right-over-left style is for other nations or used to dress a corpse for burial.

Qu: sleeve cuffs

Mei: sleeves

Chang: skirt

Quju: skirt with curved hem formed by circling the fabric around the body


According to legend, the first ruler of the Chinese nation and the ancestor of the Chinese people is an immemorial sage king called the Yellow Emperor. According to traditional reckoning, he unified the North China Plain in 2697 BC. Legends say that under his rule, China was a prosperous and powerful nation with stable politics and advanced culture. Many cultural and technological inventions are attributed to his reign, such as the Chinese written language, methods of agriculture, music, the Chinese calendar and so on. 


The Yellow Emperor's imperial consort, Leozu [Su], was said to be the first person to know how to raise silkworms and make silk from the silkworm cocoon, from which Hanfu was woven. Thus the Chinese Hanfu was invented. Because Leizu had provided China with beautiful silk and Hanfu, she is often revered as the female ancestor of the Chinese people, and respectfully addressed with the title of Xianchan since the Western Zhou Dynasty.


The Influences Of Hanfu

Due to the length of its history and China's overwhelming cultural influence on the region, Hanfu has significantly shaped the styles of traditional costumes of some Asian countries.

Korea Hanbok and Japanese Kimono,they have the unique style , have some differences from Hanfu.But they had been influenced by Hanfu. These clothings have common feature: Youren and wide sleeve.

Some people in China today also mistake Hanfu for Korean Hanbok and Japanese Kimono.

Chinese Han Dynasty Element Fashion T-shirts

We now combine the elements of Hanfu, mainly Jiaoling Youren with fashon T-shirts, thus, came out the Chinese Element Fashion T-shirts Series, 10 designs for the first batch, more and better later.

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