okay so I saw your tags about the hair of Chinese men being political and was just wondering if you could elaborate??? I'm really interested sorry!!
Haha I see well it’s a very interesting topic actually!
1. Basically, for most of Chinese history both men and women kept long hair (so that’s 4000ish+ years). In ancient China, there was a lot of expansionism and conquest. The name ‘Middle Kingdom’ itself is a reflection of the view that China is the centre and nexus of civilisation. In that climate, the non-Han Chinese people getting conquered were regarded as uncivilised barbarians. Like, think something similar to Manifest Destiny? A lot of the cultural exceptionalism going around. For Chinese men, long, properly bound up hair was the way to go- it was associated with being civilised, cultured and other positive traits- short hair was associated with savagery and barbarism.
(Btw women’s clothing in Mulan looks to be inspired by multiple dynasties. The hairstyle here in any case, is quite accurate)
2. In the 1600s, the Ming Dynasty was conquered by the Manchu, a non-Han people, who founded the successive Qing dynasty. They enforced the Manchu queue hair style on Han Chinese men, which consists of the half shaven head (tonsured) and a long braid like you see in this Qing-era Chinese drama. It was basically supposed to be a mark of Manchu domination and victory- Han Chinese men with the queue had therefore submitted to Manchu rule. Failure to adopt this hairstyle was considered treasonous and one could even be executed. So now, short hair or any other style deviating from the queue = a sign of dissent. Han Chinese rebels the would therefore cut off their queues as a message about their politics.
(China has a lottttt of dramas from the imperial era, because there’s a lot of interesting material (plenty of murders, political intrigues and whatnot) and well it’s considered ideologically safe to make stuff about that era, compared to more recent…and controversial events.)
3. By the late 1800s, the defeat of the Qing dynasty in the Opium Wars and First Sino-Japanese war resulted in many humiliating concessions to other countries and China losing prestige as a regional power. Now people also saw things associated with the Qing era as antiquated and backwards. There were some attempts by more progressive members of the Qing court to reform, but the conservatives won the power struggle. When the Qing dynasty was finally overthrown in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, most Chinese men cut off their queues- and adopted short hair. They didn’t go back to the pre-Manchu hair- now short hair was symbolic of severing ties with the Manchu and I guess a symbol of modernity, as many revolutionary leaders had spent time in Western countries.‘Western’ was associated with progress, new ideas were seen as necessary to revive China from the seeming backwardness of the Qing dynasty. So Western dress and hairstyles were adopted. And here we are today, where many Chinese men keep short hair.
(This is a photo of several members of the Revive China Society, which was meant to coordinate anti-Qing revolutionary activities.)
So yep, this was what I meant about the hairstyles of Chinese men being very political.