The Meaning of Chinese Hanfu
Chinese Hanfu is the traditional Chinese style of clothing worn by the Han Chinese. Hanfu has several representative styles, including:
- Ruqun: This is an upper-body garment with a long outer skirt.
- Shanku (an upper-body garment with ku trousers)
The traditional attire holds a significant place in Chinese history and culture. The hanfu dress is typically loose, with flowing robes and wide sleeves. Natural fabrics are mainly the focus, such as silk and linen. This blog article is all about covering different aspects of this beautiful Chinese traditional attire. Let’s do a deep dive to learn the beautiful details of Chinese Hanfu.
How to Speak and Write ‘Hanfu’ in Chinese
Hanfu style in Chinese culture has different style representations. When it comes to speaking and writing, it is portrayed in two different styles.
- Simplified Chinese: 汉服
- Traditional Chinese: 漢服
The literal meaning is simply “Han (Chinese) attire”. In standard Mandarin, it is:
- Hanyu Pinyin: Hànfú
- IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet): [xân.fǔ]
Hanfu consists of a paofu robe or a ru jacket. It is worn as the upper garment with a qun skirt.
History of Chinese Hanfu
The roots of Chinese Hanfu date back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). The literal meaning of Hanfu is simply Chinese Han people’s clothing. It is a traditional term used for the traditional clothes worn by the Han people. Hanfu embodies intricate designs, vibrant colors, and a deep connection to ancient traditions. It has been the dominant Chinese clothing style for centuries, for both men and women. Hanfu clothing experienced evolution through different dynasties and cultural shifts over time.
A cross-collar robe (known as zhishen or beizi) is a typical traditional Hanfu for men. They are worn over an inner garment and paired with wide-legged pants. The style and cut of the robe vary depending on the historical periods and regional influences.
On the other hand, women’s attire, such as ruqun, reflects femininity and elegance in different designs and decorative elements.
The Hanfu movement is an ongoing social movement aiming to popularize Hanfu in the design of modern Chinese clothing. On November 22, 2003, Lianhe Zaobao newspaper published the hanfu story of a man named Wang Letian who wore a DIY shenyi in public. This attracted the public and was perceived as the beginning of the modern Hanfu movement. This is also part of the Chinese Dream, or “the Great Rejuvenation of the Chinese Nation.”
Recent years have been drastic for Chinese Hanfu clothing. It has rapidly gone from a hobby to a nationwide phenomenon in recent years.
According to a report in 2022, Mainland China had 10.2 million impressive customers. The same report revealed three reasons behind this high customer range:
- Appreciation for the attire and love of traditional Chinese culture
- The style that fits their aesthetics beautifully
- Flattering outlook to put photos on social media
Chinese Hanfu clothing style has been largely appreciated in the West and other parts of the world. The charisma of the dress shows how Chinese culture boasts diversity, even in ancient traditional Chinese culture.
Different influences and derivatives of the Chinese hanfu are:
- Hanbok (Korean traditional clothing)
- Kimono (Wafuku, Japanese traditional clothing)
- Ryusou (Okinawan traditional clothing)
- Chinoiserie fashion
Types of Chinese Hanfu (Male and Female)
There are several types of Hanfu clothing styles for both male and female.
- Men’s hanfu has different forms and styles. Some basic styles are below:
- Yichang/衣裳: Men’s cross-collar top + wrap-around skirt
- Shuhe/裋褐 – top + trousers
- Yuanlingpao/圆领袍 – round-collar robe & Zhiduo/直裰
- Zhiju/直裾 – straight-hem robe
- Dachang/大氅 – open-fronted robe
- Banbi/半臂 – half-sleeve jacket & Beizi/褙子 – jacket.
Ruqun (襦裙): Two traditional forms of ruqun are primarily worn by women. Upper garments may have tighter or looser cuffs and sleeves depending on the style. A short skirt or weighted braid is added to improve the aesthetics or comfort of the basic ruqun.
Zhongyi (中衣): It is usually the inner garment much like a Western T-shirt and pants. It is also good to wear along in casual.
Aoqun/袄裙: Two-piece outfit consisting of an upper garment (袄) and a skirt (裙).
Beizi/褙子: A long, loose-fitting robe with narrow sleeves.
Qun (skirt)/下裙: A long, flowing skirt perfect to wear on any Hanfu top.
Modern-day Chinese Hanfu Clothing Style
A couple of decades ago, the hanfu style was mostly seen in historical movies and TV shows. However, the revival movement has worked in its favor, and modern Chinese youth are embracing it. Chinese youth and enthusiasts worldwide share their outfits on social media, attend events, and participate in cultural activities. Today, the Hanfu style is widely seen at weddings, frespect and avoid cultural appropriation.
Q2: Are Hanfu and Qipao different clothing styles?
Qipao was the most common traditional Chinese clothing before the revival of hand. It is also known as Cheongsam and originated in the 1920s. The qipao showcases elegance and grace. Hanfu and Qipao have cultural and historical importance. The qipao is widely seen as a contemporary interpretation of the more traditional Hanfu dress. Designers are infusing traditional looks with different fabrics, cuts, and embellishments. This has led to a broader appreciation and acceptance.
Chinese Hanfu is an ancient, exquisite, and graceful clothing form that shows the beauty of Chinese culture. The Han ethnicity is approximately 92% of the population, and imagine when this traditional attire will be in dominant form. You can easily find Hanfu dresses online. However, you have to be careful with quality, authenticity, and proper sizing.
Chinese people wear hanfu because of cultural identity, history, fashion and aesthetics, and community and social connections. Wearing the dress isn’t bad outside of China; nevertheless, shows respect for this cultural identity. The best time is at some Chinese festival or event to make it appropriate according to Chinese culture.
estivals, cultural events, and even everyday fashion.
The rich history and symbolic significance continue to captivate individuals worldwide. Clothing style represents a harmonious blend of elegance, tradition, and cultural identity. This new resurgence is both a representation of timeless beauty and a testament to the enduring appeal of Chinese culture. The legacy of the Hanfu style seems to have regained its place in Chinese history. Its profound beauty and representation of a rich cultural heritage are preserved as a legacy.
Many universities have Hanfu societies. Members of these societies wear Hanfu to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals. This is used as an opportunity to introduce their Hanfu garments to others. Many supporters also believe that wearing Hanfu gives a sense of national identity.
Influence of Chinese Hanfu in East Asia
Hanfu had a far-reaching influence on clothing in Asian countries, like the Japanese kimono, the Korean hanbok, and the Vietnamese Áo giao lĩnh. The Japanese adoption of Chinese clothing started in the 5th century. The kimono is traditional Japanese clothing. Gofuku is another term used for it, which means “clothing of Wu.” Wu was the Chinese kingdom (220–280).
Traditional Chinese hanfu is regaining the importance that it once had in Chinese culture. Thanks to the movement that started at the beginning of this century, Students have a special role in spreading this Chinese cultural attire. Social media is the next step in spreading the beauty of Chinese culture. Chinese youth wear different designs, which leads to incredibly beautiful photographs that they upload on social media. It is popularizing it globally.
FAQs About Chinese Hanfu
Q1: Can non-Chinese people wear Hanfu?
The appreciation and acceptance of Chinese hanfu see expansion beyond cultural boundaries. People from diverse backgrounds are embracing its beauty. However, it is always important to show respect and cultural sensitivity. You should refrain from using it as a mere costume or trend as part of your approach to show.
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