How people deal with ignorance in the Hanfu Movement


Original title: “真正的漢服囧事” (The seriously “jiong” events for Hanfu) – Selected anecdotes from Hanfu promoters’ lives 

Translator’s comment: Over the many years we have been promoting traditional Han Chinese culture (and later on clothing), the rift of “antiquity” and “modernity” instilled in most Chinese minds have undoubtedly caused much friction between people. In good nature, humour has been added and this “spice of life” has brightened our daily lives much. There are many personal tales brought up in this thread, and many more lie outside. Only selections have been chosen in translation here, but they give a good idea to the difficulties of many people who wish to show their fellow (Han) Chinese people their own culture – whom many do not recognize.


Post #1 & 2 Qi Lu Feng 

A certain nouveau-riche sounding man, around mid-30’s, with a huge Fukien accent phones in:
XXXX:Hey, you Qilu Feng?
Qi:I am, may I ask who you are?
XXXX:How much are you selling your Hanfu to me for?
Qi:I don’t sell Hanfu.
XXXX:If you don’t sell Hanfu, then what are you promoting it for?
Qi:We are promoting a kind of culture.
XXXX:Are you selling it or not? For what reason are you not selling it to me!
Qi:Sorry, I am not in this business.
XXXX:If you’re not selling, then you have to give me a place that does!
Qi:You can try searching on Taobao (the Chinese version of eBay).
XXXX:What’s Taobao?
Qi:An online gathering spot for vendors.
XXXX:Which bus do I take to get there?
Qi:It’s a website. Just enter the address and you’ll be there.
XXXX:Hey! Can’t you speak louder?
Qi:You can search it on Baidu. The address is
XXXX:Who do I count on? (“count on”拜托 baituo sounds similar to Baidu) I’m asking you!
Qi:Hanfu is meant for people with a normal IQ to wear. You don’t need to buy it.
Qi:Farewell. *hangs up* 

Qi Lu Feng at the office.

Post #3 – Qi Lu Feng
A certain middle-aged woman phones in:
XXXX:You Qilu Feng?
Qi:Yes, you are? 
XXXX:You make sweatshirts? (汗衫 han4 shan1)
Qi:I have done some Hanfu promotions before.
XXXX:I just heard from a friend that you can custom-order some sweatshirts.
Qi:Perhaps you heard it wrong. It’s Hanfu, not sweatshirts.
XXXX:Hanfu isn’t a sweatshirt?
Qi:It’s “Han1 fu2″, not sweatshirts (han4 shan1)
XXXX:Korean (韓 Han3) versions of sweatshirts?
Qi:It’s the clothing of Han1 people.
XXXX:It’s made by a Korean (Han3) factory in Chengyang (a suburb of Qingdao)?

Post #4 – Qi Lu Feng
Some old guy participates in the People’s Fashion Show, wearing a polo shirt (a regular one), with a cloth sash tied at the waist, and a dragon is embroidered on the back.

Qi:Hey Uncle, you participating in the contest too?
XXXX:Yeah, this is called “The Descendents of the Dragon”.
Qi:Is that what the dragon sewn in the back means?
Qi:I heard from the staff here saying that this is Hanfu?
XXXX:This is Hanfu!
Qi:…(puzzled) How is this Hanfu?
XXXX:This represents the proud spirit of our great Han ethnicity, and…(head high in a performance strut)
Qi:This is a shirt.
XXXX:A shirt-type Hanfu.
Qi:How can a shirt possibly be Hanfu.
XXXX:MADE IN CHINA (In amazingly subpar English) 
Qi:Can you explain in detail who told you that this is Hanfu?
XXXX:Everyone’s understanding is different.
XXXX:The shirt was made by Chinese people. China belongs to the Han, hence the shirt belongs to the Han.
Qi: ………. 

Post #8 – Qi Lu Feng
Some 囧person enters a Hanfu online  discussion group
XXXX:Yo bro, here?
XXXX:Got any free-spirited women here?
XXXX:There’s plenty of women in here.
Qi:What are you doing here?
XXXX:Looking for some passionate, wild women.
Qi:Looking to woo some women?
Qi:And you only know the adjective”wild”? We have plenty of cultured women here, and by your standard…
XXXX:How old?
Qi:They each have their own interests, but they always report a much younger age online.
XXXX:No way, they look much younger from the event pictures.
Qi:The older ones don’t like uploading pics, that’s all.
XXXX:Wanna try opening webchat?
Qi:What happens if you meet up with some aunt or old lady?
XXXX:Kao (fxxk)
Qi:*Kick out of group, blacklisted* 

Post #9 – Qi Lu Feng
Some “godly” person enters a Hanfu discussion group:
XXXX:You’ve done a lot for Hanfu.
Qi:Hoho, you are?
XXXX:I am the emissary from the …… of the Celestial Dynasty.
XXXX:My Emperor is about to don you the Governor of Shandong.
Qi:(shocked……) What’s that supposed to mean?
XXXX:You don’t want to do it? 
Qi:You must be daydreaming.
XXXX:Following along with the great philosophers……ers, kingly figures of our time…
Qi:Do you know what I’m up to nowadays?
XXXX:An event?
Qi:No, something even bigger.
XXXX:Let’s hear it.
Qi:After unifying the universe, I’ll don your emperor the Imperial emissary of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Post #11 – Qi Lu Feng
Some deity-like figure joins our Hanfu gathering:
Qi:Everyone have a seat.
XXXX:This is my first time in a group like this. I’m happy!
Qi:Hoho, be sure to come often later on.
XXXX:Sure, I’ll be sure to learn.
Qi:(Goes looking off the other direction)
XXXX:(Swiftly passes out business cards) …our product…
Fellow promoters:Hm, hm, hmm…
Qi: (Turns back), let’s go on with the discussion.
XXXX:I would love to experience wearing Hanfu.
Qi:Sit down first, and we’ll all have a chance to wear it later.
(Time passes…) 
Qi:(Leaves seat to get some Hanfu from the bag)
XXXX:Our new product…
Qi:Everyone, come pick one up that’s your size.
XXXX:Oh great, oh great!
(More time passes)
Qi:The event is over. Let’s meet again next time.
A certain fellow promoter:Your colleague never forgets about his job.
Qi:My colleague?
A certain fellow promoter:He said he’s from the same unit as you.
Qi:………*falls over* 

Post #21 – azmdxy
An event during a festival at a certain plaza square: 

Aunt:Eh, these clothes are sure pretty.
Me:This is Hanfu, the traditional clothes of the Han Chinese.这是汉服,汉族的传统服装。
Aunt:”han” fu?
Me:(Promoting excitedly) Hanfu is…
Aunt:Are you guys doing Chinese opera? What are you guys singing?
Me:No, today is a traditional holiday, so we’re organizing an event. (breaks out a cold sweat)
Aunt:You guys aren’t doing opera? Then what are you doing?
Me:(Wipes the cold sweat) We’re wearing Hanfu, our traditional clothes, to celebrate our traditional holidays.
Aunt:Oh, so you’re not putting on a show…(walks away leisurely) 


Post #26 – Yueyaoshi * Tan Yuezhi

While eating shaved ice in some night street market…

A certain middle-aged woman:You an ethnic minority?
Tanyuezhi:Oh, I’m Han Chinese.
A certain middle-aged woman:(Lost) Han? I don’t remember there’s such an ethnicity?
The shaved ice shop owner: (Loudly) Aren’t YOU a Han yourself!?
[Addendum: Post #63 Ningwuzi: “I’ve experienced the exact same thing, except it was with a couple.”]

Post #28 – Yueyaoshi * Tan Yuezhi
A year ago (2007), in front of some cram school…

Old floor sweeper:Yo, your clothes look pretty decent. What’s the show?
Tanyuezhi:Dear gramps, this is our Han ethnic clothing.
Old floor sweeper:Ohh~! So you guys want to be a Restorationist? (the original is 复辟 fupi, which implies the idea of reactionary)
A few days ago, a friend and I are sitting on an exercise machine at school, and an old lady is taking her granddaughter out for a stroll:
Suddenly I hear the old lady say, “Look, he’s wearing those feudal clothes.”

Post #31 – Yueyaoshi * Tan Yuezhi
One day, after school, a girl suddenly rushes up to me:

Girl:Classmate, where did you get this set of ancient clothes?
Tanyuezhi:This is not “ancient clothes”, it’s our ethnic clothing.
Girl:Oh, what ethnicity?
Tanyuezhi:Ethnic Han.
(I show the set of poker cards with Hanfu on it, including some female ones) [Transl.: This refers to the printed cards commissioned by Jiefang Zhuren, and can be found online by searching “Q版大明衣冠圖誌”]
Girl:Oh, very pretty. I’m an ethnic X (a certain minority, I won’t mention here)
Tanyuezhi:I’ve been to one of those ethnic X festivals. Your clothes look pretty good too.
Girl:Our clothes are ugly as hell, and they’re uncomfortable too. I still like you ethnic Hans’ clothes more!

Post #39 – Yueyaoshi * Tan Yuezhi
One day, on the street, a man in his 40’s came up to me:

Man:What dynasty are your clothes from?
Tanyuezhi:This isn’t from any dynasty. It’s our ethnic clothing.
Man: Oh, which ethnicity?
Man:(Coming to an understanding) Oh, so it belongs to our great Han ethnicity!
Tanyuezhi:Hmm. Right, right.
Man:So it equals to Han Chauvinism (大漢族主義, literally parsed as “big Han ethnic-ism”), right?
Tanyuezhi:No, no. This is not Han Chauvinism (explains a whole lot)
Man:(Does not seem to hear, and says confidently) I think we should enforce Han Chauvinism, look at them bastards getting bonuses at schools, so why aren’t ours getting any?
Tanyuezhi:…Um…as long as everyone is equal. We should add points for those who have not as good education conditions, and not for those with better conditions, regardless of ethnicity.
Man:(Shakes head) They should add points for Hans. China is mostly Hans, so if you don’t give more points to them, who will?

Haishang Huajia

Post #38 – Haishang Huajia
One time, while wearing Hanfu and tied up my hair, and went out with my bow and arrow…

The man downstairs: You from Shaolin or Wudang?
Huajia: Shaolin or Wudang, they’re both Han. This is Han clothing.
Man: Oh, so you’re going to Shaolin!
Huajia: I’m not going to Shaolin, I’m going to do some archery with friends.
Man: Archery? The real deal?
Huajia: It’s for practice. You could say it’s the real deal.
Man: When can I try that out too?
Huajia: Oh? Well good, whenever you have the interest, we can go.
[Trasl. note: Haishang Huajia is one of the core members of Shanghai’s Hanzhiyin ritual archery group, dedicated to reviving the Archery Ritual “Sheli”]

Post #45 – Liaowenluo
A certain evening, browsing the supermarket with a housemate:
Me:Ah, then I won’t change, and just go directly in Hanfu~~\(^^)/
Housemate:(= =) I don’t want to meet with a ghost…
At the supermarket…
Staff:Ah, kimono!
Me:……uh,this is Hanfu~
Staff:You Japanese?
Me:How could I possibly be a Jap*%……¥!!!
Staff: (Ignoring explanations) Eh, where’s your cotton pillow behind your back?
Me:(Losing patience) Hey brother, let me tell you something~
Staff:Go ahead~
Me:You could actually see me?
The face on the staff’s face turned black!
On the way home, a girl was walking while talking on the cell phone…
Girl:Wah! Cosplayer! (Condescendingly) Not fancy at all. I hate those people who cosplay (blah blah blah)…
Me: (Angry, since I do cosplay, although this is Hanfu right now) *points at a building and talks toward housemate* Sigh, back when I was alive, the world was nowhere close to this…
Housemate:*Nods* Indeed, it’s very different from back when you were alive…
The girl’s face turns white…

Post #90 – Kongkong77
“Ugh···The most tragic thing is, when I wore my banbi to watch Nanking, Nanking, two girls passed by me in the washroom, and after coming out, my younger sister told me, “Two girls just came out, saying angrily, ‘how dare she come watch this kind of movie in a kimono!'” And I didn’t even have a chance to explain myself…Oi oi, if you want to criticize someone, at least do it in front of their face…*silence*…”

Post #99 – Tianya Zai Xiaolou
Which leads me to remember — A certain day, visiting a history museum (in Hanfu):

Security:Hi, may I ask what are you doing here?
Security: Why are you dressed like that while visiting?
Xiaolou:Is there a problem?
Security:We have a dress code requirement in here?
Xiaolou:What requirement?
Security:(Points toward the main entrance) It’s written by the entrance.
Xiaolou:So just tell me.
Security:Please go look for yourself.
Xiaolou:(In a serious tone) Can’t you say it directly? Is this your service attitude?
Security:We have a rule, that those not in proper attire (original Chinese: 衣冠不整, lit. “not proper clothes and coronals“, traditionaly technical terms for Hanfu) cannot enter.

After an argument, the manager was called over.
Manager: What’s going on?
Xiaolou: Is there a problem visiting this establishment in my own ethnic dress? If a Japanese came dressed in Kimono, would you stop them? If a Tibetan came over in traditional Tibetan attire would you stop them? Please give me an explanation.
Manager:My apologies. They are just simply afraid that an incident might occur.
Xiaolou:What kind of incident?
Manager:In the occasion that the people may spectate…[Transl.: as in surrounding Xiaolou and muse at her]
Xiaolou:Isn’t everyone coming here to see the exhibits? What are they doing spectating me for?
Manager:Can you guarantee that you don’t distribute promotion pamphlets, or make any statements?
Xiaolou:……..I’m sorry, I’m here as a visitor.
Manager:Alright. If there is a spectating incident, then we’ll have to ask you to leave. I hope you can prevent that.
I was followed by a team of security guards, and when I got to the second floor, an editor from the museum’s journal saw me, and came over to ask:

Editor:This is Hanfu you’re wearing, right?
Xiaolou:(Slightly happy) Yes.
Editor:I’m the editor of the museum’s journal. Can I interview you?
Editor:Why are you visiting the museum in Hanfu?
Xiaolou:Not for any particular reason. Just that I feel that Hans have a right to wear their own ethnic clothing in their daily lives…
A team of security guards comes over and disrupts my speech, and one of them pulled the editor over.
Security: Brother, the manager said, you can’t speak to her.
The editor was stunned for a moment, and gave a smile in apology. I returned the favor.
Upon leaving, I wrote in the guestbook: If you want to understand more, please log on to the Hanfu BBS…
The security guards were as if they just saw the nemesis of their lives, and hoarded around the guestbook to see what I wrote, as if it were some kind of untellable secret. And I gracefully left~~

Post #120 – Shandi Xunfeng Huamanlou
While wearing Hanfu to school:
Old gatekeeper: “Lil’ mushroom, this is Hanfu you’re wearing?” (Note: Because I am always late, the gatekeeper calls me lil’ mushroom)
Me:”How did you know?” (I’m acting like an idiot – I shouldn’t ask it this way, but I was too surprised)
Gatekeeper:”I perform in Beijing opera. I was there at the coming-of-age ceremony last time in Wenmiao [Literary God’s Temple] last time.”
For that day, only the gatekeeper and my language studies teacher knew that I was wearing Hanfu. Oh the tears on my face!

Post #126 – Ming_mo
One day, a classmate asked me:
Classmate:Why do you wear Hanfu?
Ming:Because I’m Han.
Classmate:I’m not.
Ming:- = Gimme a break.
Classmate:I don’t like history.
Ming:You sure you know what a Han person means?
Classmate:A person from the Han dynasty.
Ming:(Grasps hold on a wall) A Han person means an ethnic Han person!
Classmate:What’s an ethnic Han person?
Ming:Go open your hukou registry booklet, and read closely to that smart little column labelled “ethnicity”…

Post #160 – iamblackcat
Winter 2006-07, while visiting Shanghai, my dad and younger sister is around Pudong, and public transportation was already out of service, and we couldn’t get back to our residence in Puxi. The taxis (black or proper) are all demanding sky-high prices, and we spent a fortune getting back home…

August 8, 2007 – A group of girls visited Tian’anmen in Hanfu, and later separated, and it was well after 11PM by the time we reached Guomao Centre. Similarly, public transportation was out, and all the taxis were going to Tongxian. There wasn’t a single one that went in the direction of my home (outright refusing business!) After walking for a tragically long time, my brain kept repeating images of the bout in Shanghai, as I saw a taxi by the roadside. I carefully ask if it goes in my direction, and the driver said sure. Thinking back to Shanghai, I worry about the skyrocketing price, so I ask, “How much will it cost?”

The driver looked at me as if I was an artefact. “We…we use distance meters now…”
(Very nice….this epoch of yours is very high tech indeed = =|||)

Post #168 – Gongsun Hua
The first time I told my classmates that there is this thing called Hanfu:
Classmate A:So Han people haev their own ethnic clothing too. So why don’t we wear them?
(I explain our Queue Order history)
Classmate A:Is that right.
(Then I show them some pictures of Hanfu, introducing several styles)
Classmate A:That banbi looks pretty good. Where can I get one? (She pesters me about Hanfu shops)
Classmate B:Hanfu looks pretty good. I hope we can wear it during festivals and holidays in the future.
Classmate C:Hanfu can’t represent China, the Qipao is the ethnic dress of China! Whoever dares to denigrate Qipao is against me!
After a N period of time, I happened to come across a list of my classmates’ ethnicities. I discover that:
Classmate A: ethnic Yao
Classmate B: ethnic Zhuang
Classmate C: ethnic Han
Gongsun Hua:@¥%&&#*%¥*!@¥……


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. charlesrupertdomeki
    Jan 23, 2010 @ 11:22:12

    Amusing situations indeed!

    Well, I promise that if one day I am invested with a honour by HM The Queen or obtain a peerage, I’ll wear Hanfu court dress to the investiture/State Openings of Parliament. Probably the only time Chinese court dress would be legitimately and appropriately worn in this day and age!


  2. Eden Rush
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 00:08:41

    We live in the United States but our daughter was adopted from Hunan, China. I have been following the hanfu movement online and wanted to have one made for her, in part because people here don’t realise that she has an ethnic identity beyond being Chinese. I read articles, did some research and armed myself with several hanfu photos that I thought might be appropriate for a child to wear. I visited 3 Chinese dressmakers, all of whom insisted that I had brought them kimono pictures. They all turned down my business.


  3. kat
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 05:24:55

    nooo!!! how could they
    its chinese and possible to make


    Nov 18, 2010 @ 22:28:11

    communist party’s policy ruined my people’s awareness of our own culture and identity, wearing hanfu(our own ethnic costume) is labeled as han chauvinism, political correctness.


  5. ims
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 16:08:18

    Yawei: It was the Manchus who succeeded in destroying Han identity and clothing. The communists are correct in promoting equality for minorities and trying to discourage Han chauvinism (which did and does still exists), but are at fault for whitewashing the Manchurian conquest to promote ethnic harmony.


  6. littlesnowfox
    Apr 14, 2011 @ 14:33:55

    Some of those quotes make me sad… I’m a non-Asian American, and even I know what hanfu are and how they’re different from kimono and Western clothes…


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