Pupils wearing Han Chinese clothing, the national costume of the Han people in China, bow to express their gratitude to teachers at a traditional ceremony for accepting students at the Confucian Temple in Beijing, Sept 9, 2015. 

The activity starts the fifth Beijing Confucian Temple and The Imperial College Cultural Festival, which will last for 20 days till Sept 28.


Chinese hanfu

Hanfu clothing is the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese (Han - the predominant ethnic group of China). It’s the significant cultural symbol of Chinese civilization, and it has had a long history for nearly 4000 years since China originally began. However, it has been eliminated during the establishment of Qing Dynasty (the Manchu minority ruled dynasty) in about 300 years. The ruling class of Manchu banned Han Chinese clothing and replaced it with their own costume. This is why today’s Chinese national costume was widely known as Qipao (Chi-Pao), a Manchu style of clothing. Our effort is to re-promote and advocate Hanfu to the public awareness.  

The main feature of Hanfu is wrapping the right side over before the left. There are casual wear and formal wear of it. For the casual wear such as Shenyi (Shen-Yee): a long full body garment; Ruqun (Zu-Chin): a top garment with a separate lower skirt, etc. Formal garments may include: Xuanduan (Shyan-Duan): a dark robe, this dress is mostly used in sacrificial ceremonies and state occasions; Yuan-Lin Shan: a closed, round collared robe, mostly used for official or academic occasions.  

Chinese civilization, also called “Hua-Xia” (“Hwa-Shia”). “Hua”(“Hwa”) means the beauty of the dress & decoration which is Hanfu clothing; “Xia”(“Shia”) is the grandeur of rites and social conduct. Many East Asian national costumes, such as the Japanese Kimono, the Korean Hanbok still share the basic style with Hanfu, as historically these nations were largely influenced by (Han) Chinese culture.


Tutorial of how to wear 襦裙( Ruqun) and 曲裾(qūjū). Quju is a type of women’s formal hanfu (traditional Han nationality Chinese clothes) early showed up in 770 B.C and matured in Qin dynasty and Han dynasty. The Quju in picture is the same as the antique one unearthed at Mawangdui. They both have only one layer of curved edge. Also the blue band on the back of model is called 襻膊(pàn bó), it was used originally by people in Song dynasty to tie their sleeves higher so that they could do things more conveniently. The most expensive panbo was made of silver thread, and was used by top female cooks.  Photos by 瞳莞


Chinese traditional Han clothing, also known as Chinese equipment costumes, from the Yellow Emperor ascended the throne to the late Ming (mid 17th century) which over four thousand years, with China as the center of culture and etiquette

I think it’s kind of ironic how Japanese traditional clothing like the kimono looks more like actual Han Chinese clothing (the hanfu) than what non-Asians see as traditional Han Chinese clothing today (the cheongsam, which was due to Manchu rule of china in the qing dynasty).

Like yeah…sure I mean I know we kinda made the cheongsam ours when Chinese women modernised and adapted it into the fashionable, shapely style you see nowadays in the 1920s. But still, the Manchu dress code got forced on our ancestors? Like the queue haircut for men. I don’t know. Maybe Han Chinese people who also have Manchu ancestry can identify with the manchu-influenced clothing with less of these mixed feelings. I guess I also don’t view the Qing Dynasty too positively because I feel they failed to modernise China in time (unlike what Japan managed) and were at the helm when the fuck up with the Opium Wars happened. 

I guess I think it’s kind a pity that we haven’t preserved wearing our ancient clothing styles as much as Japanese and Koreans do. (Or is that again an irony, seeing how the kimono looks like what it does due to Chinese cultural imperialism?) Well, I mean when I was a really small child I thought the cheongsam was what we wore for centuries until I watched all those Chinese period dramas.