Chinese hanfu is an exquisite folk clothing. Both male and female garments look very sophisticated, ornate, and authentic. By the way, the hanfu had a strong influence on the Korean and Japanese folk costumes. This attire definitely is the pride of Asian countries, far beyond the borders of China. And its main advantage over the European fashionable clothing (with all those corsets, breastplates, and bodices) is that hanfu isn’t health-threatening – it allows the body to function freely.
The folk costume of Chinese Han people is called “hanfu” (literally it is translated as “Han clothes”). The full attire consists of a “yi” – unisex cross-collar, knee-length tunic, a “pao” – male full-body robe, a “ru” – cross-collar shirt, a “shan” – cross-collar shirt or jacket worn over the yi, a “qun” – female skirt or “chang” – male skirt, and a “ku” – trousers.
The headgear is one of the main accessories used with a hanfu. There are dozens of various hats, caps, hairpieces, and elaborate headdresses worn by men and women in different periods of Han Chinese rule. Here are just a few of them.
Han Chinese clothing originates from the Yellow Emperor period, which lasted nearly 5,000 years ago. With the change of dynasties, hanfu had different styles. But it is tightly connected with silk fabric – most of garments used by the high-class people of the period were made from natural silk only.
Traditionally, the design and cut of the hanfu indicated the strict hierarchy among Chinese people. Such peculiarities as the length of a skirt, wideness of sleeves, and the number of ornamentation showed to which class the owner belonged.
Comparing with Western clothing at the same time, hanfu has obvious advantages in humane design. When Westerners used the breastplate and panniers, corsets and bustles to limit female body development and change natural shapes and curves, the loose hanfu could allow the body to stretch freely.
European corset, the 19th century
European corset and crinoline
Hanfu also influenced the neighboring countries through the Han culture. Korean hanbok and Japanese kimono, both have or draw lessons from the characteristics of hanfu. On the photos below, you can see the common features of these Asian garments.
Examples of Japanese kimonos similar to Chinese hangu
Examples of Korean hanbok that look a lot like Chinese hangu
Nowadays, more and more young people wear hanfu for travel and work. Meanwhile, more people are striving for the hanfu revival.