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A Brief Introduction to Traditional Chinese Costumes

3 February 2013

SOAS University of


UK Research and Development Centre for Chinese Traditional Culture


UK Han Culture Association

School of Oriental and African Studies Chinese Student & School Association

" A Brief Introduction to Traditional Chinese Costumes” tells the story of Han People (Chinese) Clothing past and present. It discusses the origin of Hanfu 汉服 characteristics and types, Han clothing development and its revival movements.

Hanfu is the traditional clothing of the Han Chinese, the predominant ethnic group of China. It is a significant cultural symbol of Chinese civilization, and has had a long history since China originally began. However, it was eliminated during the establishment of Qing Dynasty (ruled by the Manchu minority) in the mid-17th century. The Manchu ruling class banned Han Chinese Clothing and replaced it with its own ethnic clothing. This is why the national clothing commonly known today is Qi-Pao (Chi-Pao), a Manchu style.


The main feature of Hanfu is wrapping the right side over the left. There is formal wear and casual wear. Formal garment is Xuanduan (Shyan-Duan), a dark robe, which is mostly used in sacrificial ceremonies and state occasions. Casual wear include garment such as Shenyi (Shen-Yee), a long full body garment; Ruqun (Zu-Chin), a top garment with separate lower skirt, and so forth. Yuanlingshan (Yuan-Ling Shan) is a closed, round collared robe, which is mostly used for official or academic occasions.


Chinese civilization is also named "Hua-Shia". "Hua" means the beauty of the dress & decoration, evident in Hanfu clothing; "Shia" is the grandeur of rites and the propriety of social conduct. Many East Asian countries’ national costume, such as the Japanese Kimono and the Korean Hanbok, still share the basic style with Hanfu, as historically these nations were largely influenced by Han Chinese culture.

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