You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 10, 2016, 10:24:59 PM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing  (Read 653 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« on: May 19, 2013, 04:23:49 AM »
Recently, I've been toying with an idea of running a wuxia game. That, in turn, made me do some research on historical Chinese clothing - if reading about the subject on Wikipedia can be considered reseach, that is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanfu

Here's something I noticed: based on this article, the traditional Chinese clothing remained remarkably unchanged across the centuries. It did change in some aspects, but the basic garments remained the same across Chinese history. The only time some actual new fashion appeared was the founding of Qing dynasty, which brough Manchu styles to China.

Here's what I'm wondering: why was that? In Europe, the fashions changed constantly. The fashion of Imperial Rome was nothing like the fashion of the Middle Ages... or the fashion of 17th century etc. So, were the historical Chinese people so conservative in their fashion that they didn't make any changes for thousands of years..? Is it even possible?

Anyone here with some knowledge of Asia (or, even better, anyone actually living in Asia) that could shed some light on the subject?

Offline Shjade

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2013, 07:24:49 AM »
Disclaimer: I'm no historian.

That said, just looking at it from a comparative perspective, I would think Chinese fashion didn't change much for the same reason that European fashion changed so often: steady vs. unsteady leadership. As the wiki you linked points out, the change that happens is done by force. Roman fashion was different from things that came after because the things that came after weren't Imperial Rome anymore. They were entirely different societies that followed violent conflict and overthrow and so on. Lots of different cultures with different styles at war in that area all the time. In China, though there were warring factions, many of them shared similar, or at least closely related, approaches to fashion, so not all that much changed through their infighting as compared to western conflicts.

Just a guess.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2013, 10:48:05 AM »
Also not a historian, but...

Many of the fashion changes in Europe also came about through exposure to different cultures.  From the days of the Great Wall, China has had a tendency (some might say an obsession) towards being insular - keeping the outside out.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2013, 03:10:15 PM »
Disclaimer: I'm no historian.

That said, just looking at it from a comparative perspective, I would think Chinese fashion didn't change much for the same reason that European fashion changed so often: steady vs. unsteady leadership. As the wiki you linked points out, the change that happens is done by force. Roman fashion was different from things that came after because the things that came after weren't Imperial Rome anymore. They were entirely different societies that followed violent conflict and overthrow and so on. Lots of different cultures with different styles at war in that area all the time. In China, though there were warring factions, many of them shared similar, or at least closely related, approaches to fashion, so not all that much changed through their infighting as compared to western conflicts.

Just a guess.
Not so sure this holds. China is only the world's oldest or stablest culture if you overlook the regular collapses into barbarism. Oniya's point, I think, is likely more on the mark - historically, most Chinese cultures have seen anything from outside as inferior.

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2013, 03:55:52 PM »
Also, you may be defining things a little wrongly here.  Or failing to recognise something.  Bah, I'm putting this badly.  A picture will remove at least a thousand of these words.

Here is the google image result for "hanfu".  While, yes, there is a certain uniformity of theme there are quite large differences in the style.  Just look at the sleeves in the first image vs. the sixth as a very easy example.

That's what fashion is.  Its not an entirely new shape of clothing - Roman women wore dresses both in 100 BC and nowadays.  Londoners have worn trousers for a thousand years.  It seems to me you're saying that the fashion hasn't changed by looking only at the type of clothing, rather than the different fashions within it.

You say in your first post that:
Quote
It did change in some aspects, but the basic garments remained the same across Chinese history.

emphasis mine

but I think you'll find that European garments follow exactly the same pattern.  Here is a detail from the Bayeaux tapestry.  Made in the 1070s.  Do you honestly feel that the clothing is different enough that a Chinese person couldn't ask why the basic garments haven't changed across European history?

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2013, 04:00:56 PM »
Hmmm. Well, the men on the tapestry are clearly wearing tunics and capes. We *don't* wear these kinds of clothes anymore...

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2013, 04:06:48 PM »
I think you need to pay a little more attention to fashion.

Cape

Tunic

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2013, 04:11:27 PM »
Hm. Again, I'm afraid I must disagree. First of all, both the cape and the tunic you linked to are *female* garments, while the people on the tapestry are *males*. Also, both the tunic and the cape are quite different from their Medieval versions...

We really don't wear the same clothes as our ancestors did. Do men wear leggins these days (aside from sports)? Do they wear wigs, feathered caps etc.?

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2013, 04:17:20 PM »
Hm. Again, I'm afraid I must disagree. First of all, both the cape and the tunic you linked to are *female* garments, while the people on the tapestry are *males*. Also, both the tunic and the cape are quite different from their Medieval versions...

I think you're splitting hairs a little there, but fine.  I went straight to female fashion but distaff examples are hardly difficult to find:

Men's cape

Men's Tunic

Quote
We really don't wear the same clothes as our ancestors did. Do men wear leggins these days (aside from sports)? Do they wear wigs, feathered caps etc.?

Do men wear leggings aside from sports.  The very fact that you can't complete the sentence without thinking of a counter example says that yes, yes they do.  And feathers in hats is precisely the point I'm making.  Feathers is fashion.  These things come and go.  Its the sleeves in the Hanfu.  They still wear hats.  Doubtless in a few decades they will have feathers in.  You're confusing the basic form of a garment with the actual garment itself.

Edit:  Also, the more I think about it, there's literally no difference between a tunic and a t-shirt.  And we emphatically do still wear them.
(also removed an errant BB tag)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 04:39:45 PM by Kythia »

Offline Maiz

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2013, 11:22:24 PM »
http://fuckyeahhanfu.tumblr.com/
http://nannaia.tumblr.com/post/42640184651/evolution-of-chinese-clothing-and-cheongsam-the

The only reason the fashion seems unchanged is because that's a shitty Wikipedia article.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2013, 03:12:44 AM »
*opens links and faints*

Awesome! Thanks :)

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2013, 02:34:54 PM »
Alright, let me continue the hair-splitting!  ;D

Xiaomei, I've taken a look at the timeline at Nannaia's tumblr. Diversity is definitely visible, true - but still, some of the clothes seem to be remarkably similar. Compare Fig.4 with Fig.11 - these robes are almost the same, despite being nearly 1000 years apart. Is it the same with European clothes? I'm not so sure (but I'm ready to be corrected! ;) )...

Kythia, regarding the tunic: once again, I disagree that it's the equivalent of the T-shirt. If anything, the tunic was way longer - it covered both the upper body and the legs. It was used as the outer layer of clothing - you put them on the armour, for once. Meanwhile, the T-shirts are the inner layer, second only to underwear...

I agree that there's some constancy in European clothes, but it doesn't go as far as you imply. I agree that, let's say, men's clothes remained the same for about 200 years - but not for 1000 years! The modern man wears pants, a shirt, a tie, a jacket and a coat - meanwhile, an elegant man from the Middle ages wore leggins, a tunic and a cape. These aren't just fashions, but different types of clothing...

Offline Maiz

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2013, 02:46:15 PM »
http://tweed-eyes.tumblr.com/post/33889839856/1300-1400-clothing-of-lower-empire vs http://www.cwu.edu/~robinsos/ppages/resources/Costume_History/romanesque.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ADurerNuremburgVenetianWomen.jpg vs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fourth-position-feet-Wilson-Analysis-country-dancing-1811.jpg

Just because you don't see the differences because you are not acculturated in Chinese history, fashion, context etc doesn't mean the differences don't exist. You are creating ethnocentric standards of fashion and how it changes.

Also figure 4 and 11 look very different. The hair style is different, the sleeves are different, the colors are different, figure 11 has a headdress, etc.

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2013, 02:54:52 PM »
Alright, let me continue the hair-splitting!  ;D

Xiaomei, I've taken a look at the timeline at Nannaia's tumblr. Diversity is definitely visible, true - but still, some of the clothes seem to be remarkably similar. Compare Fig.4 with Fig.11 - these robes are almost the same, despite being nearly 1000 years apart. Is it the same with European clothes? I'm not so sure (but I'm ready to be corrected! ;) )...

Kythia, regarding the tunic: once again, I disagree that it's the equivalent of the T-shirt. If anything, the tunic was way longer - it covered both the upper body and the legs. It was used as the outer layer of clothing - you put them on the armour, for once. Meanwhile, the T-shirts are the inner layer, second only to underwear...

I agree that there's some constancy in European clothes, but it doesn't go as far as you imply. I agree that, let's say, men's clothes remained the same for about 200 years - but not for 1000 years! The modern man wears pants, a shirt, a tie, a jacket and a coat - meanwhile, an elegant man from the Middle ages wore leggins, a tunic and a cape. These aren't just fashions, but different types of clothing...

We're not going to agree here.  My opinion, and I hope this doesn't look like I'm trying to get the last word in, is that you're focusing on unimportant stylistic differences in European fashion while overlooking equivalents in Chinese.  I suspect its because, to some extent, that you have the terminology to articulate the ones in Europe but not in China. 

As is obvious, I think you're mistaken to do so.  But I think its got to the stage where if I haven't convinced you of my position I'm not going to be able to. 

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Hanfu - traditional Chinese clothing
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2013, 03:03:34 PM »
Oh, I'm definitely not saying that I'm right :)

If both of you are saying that I'm being ethnocentric, then you're probably right. And Xiaomei, I admit that you're making excellent point with these comparisons - these Venetian women by Duerer are definitely looking similar to that 1811 lady, if you disregard the details...

All right then: let's roll with Figures 4 and 11: what are the differences, exactly? Would you mind listing them?