hanfu revival

Relating to the Japanese kimono issue, a surprisingly thorny topic is Chinese traditional dress from Qing dynasty (1644-1912).

This is the most recent “old China” costume available, and is seen in many iconic movies and TV dramas. But occasionally people object to it being worn in public, eg. for ceremonial purposes, due to all the awkward associations it has.

Firstly, the Qing dynasty was Manchu, not Han. This really should not matter, as in theory China includes dozens of distinct ethnic groups, and anyway Manchu is practically indistinguishable from Han at this point. But still, Qing is a foreign dynasty, much like Yuan (Mongols), and insufficiently Chinese.

Secondly, the later Qing dynasty was an era of humiliation for China, when the weakened empire was carved up by European empires and Japan, losing a lot of wars and signing a lot of unequal treaties under duress. So it’s a historical period that does not appeal to many nationalists.

Thirdly, the Qing dynasty is “old China”, feudalism, the bad old days, everything that new China got away from. There can’t be anything good about it, otherwise what would that say about new China. The younger generation might not feel this message as strongly, but it’s instructive to look at the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics, which featured a historical retrospective which jumped from the Ming Dynasty to the 1990s, consigning the Qing, Nationalists, and Mao all to the memory hole.

So what is a nationalist cosplayer to do? Revive Hanfu, of course!

okami-kotori  asked:

Do people in china still wear this kind of traditional clothing? Like in Japan you might find some people wearing them for various reasons. But is it socially acceptable in China nowadays?

Hi, thanks for your question!

Hanfu has only recently just started undergoing a revival as a living, breathing fashion after being displaced for three centuries. Before the revival movement began in earnest around 2003 (although there had been attempts at revival before), hanfu was mostly relegated to books, paintings/art, clerical traditions in Daoism/Buddhism, and the stage/TV. Therefore, currently hanfu is considered a niche rather than mainstream fashion. When it comes to traditional clothing, most people will still be seen wearing qipao/tangzhuang. However, as the revival movement progresses, more and more people are wearing hanfu not just for traditional/formal occasions like weddings and holidays, but also for daily life.

So in short: wearing hanfu is not yet “socially acceptable” in the sense that you’ll probably still get some strange looks if you wear it out in the street, but as it gains legitimacy and popularity as a revived fashion, public consensus is also changing and becoming more accepting. For more information, Wikipedia has an article on the hanfu movement here, if you’re interested :)