Hanfu or Han Chinese Clothing

Han Fu or Han Chinese clothing, referred in English simply as Silk Robe or Chinese Silk Robe, is the historical dress of the Han Chinese people worn for thousands of years before the conquest by the Manchus of the Qing Dynasty in 1644.

Portrait of Confucius, Showing the Han Fu of the Spring and Autumn Period
Han Chinese Clothing


History of Han Chinese Clothing

Han Fu has a history of more than three millennia, and is said to have been worn by the legendary Yellow Emperor.


Shang and Zhou Dynasty Han Fu



Shenyi a type of Han Chinese clothing commonly worn from the pre-Shang periods to the Han Dynasty. This form is known as the quju and worn primarily by women.
Han Chinese Clothing
Another type of Han Chinese Shenyi commonly worn from the pre-Shang periods to the Ming Dynasty. This form is known as the zhiju and worn primarily by men.
Han Chinese Clothing
Two traditional forms of ruqun, a type of Han Chinese clothing worn primarily by women. Cuffs and sleeves on the upper garment may be tighter or looser depending on style. A short skirt or weighted braid (with weight provided by a jade or gold pendant) is sometimes worn to improve aesthetics or comfort of the basic ruqun.
Han Chinese Clothing

The Shang Dynasty (1600 BCE-1046 BCE), developed the rudiments of Han Fu. It consisted of a narrow-cuffed, knee-length tunic tied with a sash, and a narrow, ankle-length skirt worn with a length of fabric that reached the knees.

The dynasty to follow the Shang, the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BCE), established a strict hierarchical society that used clothing as a status meridian, and inevitably, the height of one’s rank influenced the ornateness of a costume. Such markers included the length of a skirt, the wideness of a sleeve and the degree of ornamentation. In addition to these class-oriented developments, the Han Fu became looser, with the introduction of wide sleeves and jade decorations hung from the sash.

12th century Chinese painting of The Night Revels of Han Xizai showing musicians dressed in Han Fu.
Han Chinese Clothing

In the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770BCE-221BCE), the “deep robe” appeared a combination of tunic and skirt. The upper and lower halves were cut separately but sewn as a single unit. An additional change was the shaping of the left side of the costume into a corner, fastened on the chest.


Tang Dynasty Han Fu


Han Chinese Clothing

Tang Dynasty (618CE-907CE) was a period of golden age for the people where culture and economy thriving. Especially, the Women’s dress and personal adornments saw some major reform in this era. Although it still continues the clothing of its predecessors such as Han (206BCE – 220CE) and Sui (581CE – 618CE) dynasties, fashion during the Tang was also influenced by its cosmopolitan culture and arts. Communications and trades were flourishing between the Tang and many places and cultures and that it has changed the thoughts and concepts of the old practices. Before the Tang, Chinese women were restricted by the old Confucian code where a woman’s status was low and her clothing had to be concealed. However during the Tang, women’s clothing gradually became broad and loose. Tang Dynasty was considered by some as another turning point for Han Fu. During the Tang era, foreign culture was lively accepted by the Chinese and blended into Chinese traditional culture.


Song Dynasty Han Fu


Chinese Traditional Clothing

Some features of Tang Clothing carried into the Song Dynasty (960CE – 1279CE) Such as court customs. Song court customs often use red color for their garments with black leather shoe and hats. Collar edges and sleeve edges of all clothes that have been excavated were decorated with laces or embroidered patterns. Such clothes were decorated with patterns of peony, camellia, plum blossom, and lily, etc. Although some of Song clothing have similarities with previous dynasties, some unique characteristics separate it from the rest. Many of Song Clothing goes into Yuan and Ming.


Ming Dynasty Han Fu


Chinese Traditional Clothing

Ming Dynasty also brought many changes to its clothing as many dynasties do. They implemented metal buttons and the collar changed from the symmetrical type of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to the main circular type. Compared with the costume of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the proportion of the upper outer garment to lower skirt in the Ming Dynasty was significantly inverted. Since the upper outer garment was shorter and the lower garment was longer, the jacket gradually became longer to shorten the length of the exposed skirt. Young ladies in the mid Ming Dynasty usually preferred to dress in these waistcoats. The waistcoats in the Qing Dynasty were transformed from those of the Yuan Dynasty.


Han Fu in Modern Day


Today, most Han Chinese wear Western-style clothing in everyday life. Han Chinese clothing is presently worn only as a part of historical reenactment, festivals, hobby, coming of age/rite of passage ceremonies, ceremonial clothing worn by religious priests, or cultural exercise and can be frequently seen on Chinese television series, films and other forms of media entertainment.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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What to Wear for Tai Chi Practice

In contrast with many fitness classes or sport options, Tai Chi has minimal clothes and clothing requirements. You can actually wear anything you want during Chi training, loose, comfortable pants and top, with flat-soled shoes is all that is needed to practice a routine. The most common Tai Chi suit is a T-shirt and sweat pants.

Tai Chi

Loose clothing ensures freedom of movement in every direction, while flat shoes are needed for balance and grip on the floor or ground.


Why Proper Clothing is So Important in Tai Chi

Tai Chi requires fundamental meditation skills to execute properly. There are a variety of important aspects to your martial arts and exercise workout.

Some of the experts argue that wearing proper clothing during the exercise session is every bit as essential as the mental preparation before actual session itself. The fact that you are wearing a certain ‘uniform’ puts you in a certain state of mind, and spiritual energy is allowed to flow better through the meridians. They rationalize that spiritual energy Qi flows from every pore in the body. Tight and inhibitive clothing can severely diminish the flows of energy in your body. This is especially important to those who are starting to learn the skills of the ancient art. Starters tend to have more difficulty in detecting and managing Qi.

Tai Chi

Tough heavy clothing like jeans and jackets are so rigid and not as flexible, that it will hinder body movement and encumber the practitioner and will be uncomfortable, especially in the middle of a meditation.

Tai Chi

Footwear depends on the location. Some experts insists that students wear flat-soled supportive shoes in class and never bare feet, both for safety and in accord with traditional Chinese medical principles which regard some points on the soles of the feet to be of key importance in health; therefore they must be protected from impact and from cold.


Features of Proper Tai Chi Clothing


Here are some of the features that you ought to find in Tai Chi clothing. The proper clothing fabric should be soft, light, and supple so that the movements remain uninhibited, the practitioner is not distracted and the postures can be performed in the best of conditions.

Linen pants are a favorite choice since linen is thermo-regulating, strong, durable and more resistant to wear and abrasion. Traditional Chinese martial arts masters use silk since silk was plentiful in china. Cotton is also an alternative if silk and linen are not easily available. Cotton is cool and is also less expensive.

Tai Chi

The most common color of Tai Chi clothing is black and white. Though there are no restrictions to the color of clothing that you wear, you’d better not wear too bright colors because you may disturb the other people in your class, unless of course you train alone. Vivid colors make it a bit difficult to keep the mind focused; they could become a distraction particularly for people in the early training stages.

The proper exercise clothing only serves to make you comfortable while practicing your art, but it does not define the skill in the art. Any person interested in the art of Tai Chi can try it. Tai Chi is supposed to help you balance your mind and body so whatever cloths you decide to wear they should not distract you from your meditation experience. You can even practice the meditation in the middle of Sahara wearing only a swimsuit if you wanted to.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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Chinese Traditional Clothing II


Three Types of Traditional Chinese Clothing

Three main types of traditional Chinese clothing are the pienfu, the changpao, and the shenyi.

The pienfu is an ancient two-piece ceremonial costume of a tunic-like top extending to the knees and a skirt or trousers extending to the ankles.
Chinese Traditional Clothing

The changpao is a one-piece garment extending from the shoulders all the way to the heels.

Chinese Traditional Clothing
The shenyi is a cross between the pienfu and the changpao; it consists of a tunic and a skirt or trousers like the pienfu, but the tunic and the skirt are sewed together and essentially one piece like the changpao. Consequently, the shenyi was the most widely worn of the three types. Three types of clothing were wide and voluminous sleeves and a very loose fit. Tunic and trousers or tunic and skirt, utilized a very minimum number of stitches for the amount of cloth used.


Features of Chinese Clothing


Because of relatively plain design and structure of traditional Chinese clothing, embroidered edgings, decorated bands, draped cloth or silks, patterns on the shoulders, and sashes were often added as ornamentation. These varied designs came to be one of the unique features of traditional Chinese dress.

Chinese Traditional Clothing

Darker colors were much more favored than lighter ones in traditional Chinese clothing so the main color of ceremonial clothing tended to be dark while bright, elaborate tapestry designs accented. Lighter colored clothing was worn more frequently by the common people for everyday use.

Chinese Traditional Clothing

The Chinese associate certain colors with specific seasons. Green represents spring, red symbolizes summer, white represents autumn, and black symbolizes winter. The Chinese are said to have a fully developed system of matching, coordinating, and contrasting colors and shades of light and dark in apparel.

Chinese Traditional Clothing

Red is favorite for most Chinese people since Red symbolizes good luck. Chinese people prefer to wear red when they are celebrating some important festivals or events in their life, such as wedding ceremony.


by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com


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Chinese Traditional Clothing I

Chinese culture is one of the few surviving ancient cultures of the world. For thousands of years, generations of clothing designers have devoted themselves to building the Kingdom of Clothes, making the garments that cover the human body into an important component of Chinese culture. The progress of nation can be seen through its changes in clothing styles.


History of Chinese Clothing

China has many ethnic groups, and each had their own influences, but the overall style was set by rulers of each dynasty. Invasions and contacts with trading partners brought influences from the Middle East, Mongolia, Manchuria and Korea. With the opening of China in the 1840s, modern Western dress began to be adopted.

Chinese Traditional Clothing Chinese Traditional Clothing


Ancient China


Silk cloth was in use by 1600 B.C. and was reserved for nobility or wealthy people. Most early Chinese wore clothing woven from hemp or ramie. Women wore floor-length tunics or shorter tunics over skirts, while men wore shorter tunics with skirts. In cold weather, pants and padded jackets were used. Silk could be plain or patterned and was decorated with embroidery. During the Zhou Dynasty, from 1046 to 256 B.C., clothing was for court robes, religious ceremonies, military uniforms and weddings. Things changed in the Han Dynasty from 256 to 25 A.D., when people were allowed to wear whatever they wished. Women wore jackets and skirts in colors depending on the season, black for winter, blue in spring, red for summer and yellow in autumn.


Further Cultural Admixture


From the second to the fifth centuries, northern peoples moved south, bringing their costume styles with them. During the Sui (581-618CE) and Tang Dynasties (618-907CE), jackets, coats, robes, waist cloths, long and short trousers, jackets, socks, shoes and boots were worn, and styles of ethnic minorities were adopted. The Song Dynasty (960- 1279CE), saw the introduction of pleated skirts, and pomegranate red was the most popular color. Fabrics were gauze, damask, crepe and brocade. The Yuan Dynasty (1206- 1368 CE) had Mongol influence incorporated into the predominant Han Dynasty styles, and Korean clothing became popular toward the end of the Yuan.

Chinese Traditional Clothing Chinese Traditional Clothing Chinese Traditional Clothing


Ming and Qing Dynasty


Chinese Traditional Clothing

The Ming Dynasty lasted from 1368 to 1644 and re-established a rigid clothing protocol. Only Han-type clothing was allowed and it again defined social and official classes. Broad belts and buttons were popular. The Qing or Manchu Dynasty (1644 to 1911) began with the conquest of China by Manchuria. They brought cotton with them and introduced its use and culture. The Manchurian invaders also added fur, leather, suede, bamboo hats and felt. Men were made to wear Manchurian-style clothing — long silk gowns and mandarin jackets — and to wear their hair in a braided queue. Women could wear Manchurian long gowns or Han coats and skirts.




Chinese Traditional Clothing

The Manchurian women’s dress, called Qipao, cheongsam or mandarin gown, was the predominant women’s garment when China was opened to trade with the West. This gown features a high neck and a slit skirt. When it became an international style in the 1920s, sleeves narrowed, and the waist thinned. Men wore Western dress during the day and traditional dress at home. Republic of China founder Sun Yat Sen introduced the Zhongshan suit, which was then popularized by Mao Zedong and called the Mao suit. Western-style dress is now widely worn throughout China.

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Stunning Features of Miao Hmong Costume

Miao costume The most rich and colorful attire of the Miao Hmong people is found in the south of China. Every different branch of the Miao Hmong people brings with them a different kind of costume. Their designs range from the exquisitely gorgeous costumes of the Shidong area to the primitive and coarse ones of the Nandan area. These people are extremely talented in art, especially those living in the Guizhou province. Their embroidery works, batik and silver accessories are perfect examples of showing characteristics of Miao Hmong clothing art.




Sophisticated weaving, dyeing, batik, pleating, embroidery, appliqué, interlacing, and quilting techniques are used to produce the costumes and have evolved to exceptional artistry. Traditionally, these skills are passed down from mother to daughter. Making a set of traditional Miao clothes usually takes a Miao Hmong woman 1 to 2 years. Moreover, as hand-made Miao Hmong costumes are sewn individually by Miao women in their homes, there are hardly two costumes with the same style or pattern.




The materials used in Miao Hmong costumes are hemp, cotton, silk and natural dyestuffs, including indigo. The geographic location of the villages has a great bearing on the materials from which the garments are made. Cotton is produced in western Hunan and eastern Guizhou and is traditionally used in the making of clothes. Wool is produced in the cold highland areas of north-eastern Yunnan and is used for making warm clothes in that region. Flax is grown is Sichuan, western Guizhou and south-eastern Yunnan and so linen is used in the manufacture of clothes.




Miao costume Embroidery techniques are varied. Satin stitch and cross-stitch are widely used. In some areas, such as south-east Guizhou, girls also use braid or plaited stitch. The satin stitched is bright and smooth with delicate, clear patterns of animals and plants. The cross-stitch is done on the reverse side of the fabric, the patterns appearing on the obverse side or on both sides. And the braid stitch is done by plaiting silk thread into braids, folding it on cloth and then fixing it with thread. The patterns of this embroidery create a striking decorative effect.




Miao costume Miao Hmong women are proficient in batik. Their colored batiks are renowned at home and abroad. The process is all manual and rather tedious, which involves drawing, waxing (with special wax knife using beeswax), dyeing and wax melting. This technique had been lost among Han Chinese but being kept very well by ethnic Miao Hmong. In fact, the United Nation (UN) reported that Miao Hmong costume is one of the world cultural relics, where batik plays a major role.

The motifs on batik are plain, naive, rough and powerful. Its shapes are boldly diversified and exaggeratedly drawn. Since Miao Hmong language do not have scripts, abstract symbols or totems are also commonly found.


Silver Ornaments


Miao costume Silver ornaments make up an important part of Miao Hmong dress. Miao believe silver can dispel evil spirits and is also a symbol of wealth. Miao Hmong families dress up their daughters with silver ornaments for special occasions. Silver worn by young women sometimes weighs more than 10 kg, which makes the whole body sparkling and shinning.

The Miao Hmong silver ornaments include silver hat, silver horns, silver combs, silver earrings, ear pendants, neckbands, necklaces, collars, bracelets and rings. Most of them are handmade by Miao Hmong silversmiths. Skills and techniques employed are casting, hammering, plaiting, cutting flowers and carving lines. Patterns are mostly dragon, phoenix, horses, flowers and birds, lively and delicately exquisite.

by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com

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