Monday, September 8, 2008

Hanfu movement

Hanfu movement , or the Hanfu subculture, is a movement created in China to reintroduce into modern life the traditional Han Chinese clothing that were banned by the Manchu Qing Dynasty .


According to the Asia Times Online, the Hanfu movement may have begun around 2003 when a man called Wang Letian from Zhengzhou, China, wore Hanfu in public . This inspired others to do the same and the Hanfu movement grew out of forums created initially about Hanfu, which later covered the cultural identity of China. Since the start of the movement, there has been public interest in Hanfu as well as debates about it.

Major activities that Hanfu enthusiasts part-take include holding Guan Lis and Ji Li's and other formal traditional ceremonies of the past, wearing Hanfu in public places and making their own Hanfu. There is a more deeper meaning and goal to the Hanfu movement than just pure dressing up, going with the trend or exercising one's individuality. The main premise of the Hanfu movement is to get to a stage where Hanfu becomes an accepted part of clothing that can be worn without the need to justify to others for wearing it as well as reviving traditional values.


The Hanfu movement has aroused some debates.

The exact definition of "Hanfu"

Throughout China's long history, the clothing of the Han people have undergone many changes. The costumes of each dynasty is different, reflecting the values and interests of each period. It was not until the Qing Dynasty that the Hanfu became integrated with the costume of Manchu. Though many believe the Qipao or Cheongsam is China's national costume, this is relatively inaccurate as, considering China's thousands of years of history, the qipao is fairly modern.

To revive or not to revive

Some people believe that the disappearance of the Hanfu is not abnormal. Nowadays, many feel that the Hanfu is no longer relevant or convenient, and has been consigned to China's historical culture.

There are those who believe that every ethnic groups' costume is important and a valuable development and piece of the past, embodying the culture and traditional of that group. Hanfu is the traditional costume of the Han Chinese, so it is representative of the nation's traditional culture. The Chinese people are becoming more aware of this connection between themselves and their ancient culture. The practice of wearing Hanfu has also had the benefit of development and propagation of the traditional culture of China.

Complete restoration?

Some think it is important for certain occasions. One can wear Hanfu for holidays, festivals, weddings, birth parties, funerals or even as regular clothing. Those who believe that wearing Hanfu is inconvenient can continue wearing modern clothing. There are also those who believe that national costumes can become the standard ideal of clothing in special occasions and dates. Example of this include Japan and Korea where their national costumes do not completely dominate everyday clothing, yet make appearances during national festivals. Some even suggest modifying Hanfu to make it more appropriate for everyday clothing. As the predecessor of the kimono and hanbok, the Hanfu is surprisingly unknown to the rest of the world.

But like many other national costumes, Hanfu has a formal, more heavy and elaborate form for certain occasions , and an informal, light and easy to wear form which is more convenient to wear everyday. So completely reviving Hanfu is not as inconvenient as any other national costume.

However, there may be practical concern for complete Hanfu restoration. In parts of Han dynasty, the pants people wear did not cover the crotch, so sitting with splitting legs would be regarded as extremely rude.

Whether the ''Tangzhuang'' can fully represent the Han nationality

Some believe that the Tangzhuang has had a tremendous influence overseas and that many foreigners recognise them as the ''de facto'' Chinese national costume and that Hanfu does not share the same influence or recognition in today's environment. But such a recognition is like that of recognising the Scottish kilt as a national costume, even though it was invented by someone and is not exactly traditional or historically correct.

Historical relevence

Many feel that Hanfu is out-dated and old fashioned. A similar example is why people in the West do not wear period costume and since Hanfu is theoretically a 'period costume', it is unsuitable for wear in a modern progressive society. However, since it has been worn for the majority of Chinese history, it would not be considered a "period costume." In fact, the use of the Qipao is relatively recent, and would classify as a period costume.

The sudden change in Chinese clothing from traditional Han-style to strong Manchurian and Western influences has caused confusion as to the idea of what China's national costume is. Hanfu's development halted in the 17th century due to government sanctions by the manchurian Qing government, so the Hanfu has been placed in a situation that other national costumes have had the fortune not to experience. Technically, Hanfu is a costume not through natural development but through a forced change.

There is also debate as to whether Hanfu is just a fashion-fad or a form of Romanticism for the past rather than anything of modern relevence.

Recent developments

In February 2007, a proposal to use Hanfu for the official clothing of for the Chinese 2008 Summer Olympics was submitted to the Chinese Olympic Committee . After considering the proposal and debating on what should be the official clothing, the Committee rejected and threw out the proposal in April.

No comments: