Preview: Outlining the Modern Hanfu

Hanfu? Cosplay?

Hanfu? Cosplay?

Despite the being the largest group on the subject, the Facebook Hanfu: Han Chinese Traditional Clothing and Culture group remains a somewhat uncomfortable place to be: Save for the debates on whether southern Chinese spoken dialects are Chinese at all, or politically-driven propaganda occasionally popping up (Five-colors restoration, Federalism etc.), the problem of addressing Hanfu in dynastic terms (e.g. “Tang Hanfu”, “Song-Ming Hanfu”) and discriminating them against each other based on thiscreate the dilemma of what Hanfu really is, as the “images of various dynasties” collided with each other. The lack of dedication by modern entertainment and mass media only add to this problematic line of thinking, as inaccurate portrayals of past periods’ rituals and even clothing standards themselves create confused images of what people really wore to represent themselves as being Han Chinese throughout the ages.

Memories of a Chinese Geisha?

Memories of a Chinese Geisha?

Failing to grasp the spirit and aesthetic tradition and replacing what is not known with modern Western values, we are left with an imagined realm of the Chinese past: A mysterious, Orientalist domain nothing short of the burlesque are popularly consumed by modern Chinese citizens as a facet of the modern urban-hip, and the ultimate irony of the Far Orient falling into the trap of Orientalism becomes but a fact of the obvious.

Even a browse on the Wikipedia page, we can see this kind of confusion between the understanding of dynastic stereotyping versus the simple existence of a style, in the inconsistencies with a more recently-developed sub-page. Behind the scenes, we are revealed the complete vacuum of study of Hanfu as a continuum of a culture, and how studies (i.e. the erroneous and unsystematic views) in academia are being heavily challenged by the Hanfu Movement, and a violent battle of words result from the remnants of the past with the detailed genealogies of today.
Hence, I will be detailing the classifications of Hanfu in a contemporary context, summarizing the research and debates of the past six years of the Revival Movement as a permanent series of pages, located under the “Hanfu” tab. Asides from expanding on the already-underway Wiki list of Hanfu articles, particular attention wil be paid to headgear, as both English and Chinese sources pay relatively little attention to this aspect. More and newer articles of collaborative research from Chinese sources will be translated to English.
All of the new articles in this series will be located in Hanfu -> (Subpages). Please check back on the Hanfu tab on the top of this blog to begin browsing this project, coming soon!

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June 2009
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