Gr.12 Chinese girl sent home from school for wearing own ethnic clothes

Originally submitted to the Anthropology Department, University of Toronto for ANT322H1 (Anthropology of Youth Culture), taught by Dr. Marcel Danesi, on April 4, 2012.

The Counter-Culturing of Tradition: The Struggle of Representation in the Han Chinese Clothing Revival Movement


By: Juni L. Yeung, University of Toronto 

HU Shen is a Gr.12 high school student in Lizhou High School in Yongkang, Zhejiang Province. She came to school dressed in Hanfu on March 18, 2012 to promote Chinese culture, but was sent home by the authorities in the afternoon, sparking nationwide criticism online.

An Alien on Home Turf

On the evening of March 19, a message titled “A time-travelling girl shockingly appeared in Lizhou High School” was posted on Sina Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter), along with a picture of HU Shen walking down a school hallway, clad in a short-Quju robe and skirt while holding in both hands typical breakfast – a glass of soy milk and a zongzi (steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaf). Described as “a typical quiet Gr.12 student, with good marks and behaviour” in a private-run Zhejiang Province high school, she acted cool and unfazed as classmates and faculty alike went ballistic in reaction to her clothes.

When a Zhejiang Daily reporter tried to contact her by noon, the school authorities replied that Hu has been “invited away to lunch by the faculty”, and 10 minutes later received a text message from Hu herself: “I’m already on route home, the teacher has driven me home to change my clothes, and for certain reasons I cannot speak with you. My apologies.” Hu then refused to receive calls all afternoon, except for one text message from another local newspaper reporter, where she said she was “advised not to return to school for the day; and scared being home alone, will wander in town and probably stay at a relative’s place for the night.”[1]

Various levels of authorities displayed signs of deniability on the subject. Some staff from the school commented to the media, “Perhaps the school couldn’t accept a student dressed like this all of a sudden, and we need to have more communication.” Another faculty was quoted, “If other students came in dressed like Shi Huangdi (the First Emperor of China), you’d think that’d be weird, too.” The Zhejiang Ministry of Education stated in response, “I have never heard of situations where students wear Hanfu to school before. While many schools have set rules to forbid students from wearing strange and outlandish clothing, whether Hanfu counts as such is still up for debate.[2]

Chinese netizens responded with outrage to the authorities’ attitude on the matter. A commenter from Shaanxi wrote, “As a Han Chinese, why can’t they wear their own traditional Han clothing? The school is mentally deranged to do this to the girl!” Another from Jiangsu wrote, “Ethnic minorities can wear their own [traditional] costumes out, so why not the Han, as long as they’re not interfering other people.” A Fujian commenter lamented, “This is how Chinese culture gets extinguished.[3]

Hu’s actions were hardly random or uncommon. Since 2006, Chinese netizens have taken to the streets dressed in self-made or independently-produced Han robes, its designs dating prior to the Manchu Qing invasion of China in 1644. Their mission was to remind and convince the Chinese public to question their own perceptions and values tradition from an authenticity perspective, but have often been responded to with various degrees of resistance, mockery, and violence. The roots of this antagonism against practicing tradition stretch back to over a century ago, but the casus belli of the people taking direct action against the mainstream took place at the crossroads of China’s recent modernization program. More

Standup Collar for Dummies: Differentiating from the Mandarin Collar

Female Standup collar Ao with red Beifeng coat. Made by Jinglian Mantang of Hangzhou.

Since its inception, the Hanfu movement has strived to differentiate the flowing robes of the Han Chinese with the vestimentary products of the Qing Empire as totally different concepts. Yet, when we talk of the greatest feature of Qing and post-Qing Chinese clothing – the Mandarin standup collar – we cannot avoid that this is in fact a Han Chinese creation. Given the popular notion of Han female garb left unchanged from the “Ten exceptions” in the Queue Order, is there ultimately really a difference among Hanfu collars and Manchu-Qing collars?

To understand the evolution of the standup collar, let us look at the origins of Manchu clothing design: Collars that wrap around the neck are non-existant, and to protect the neck, scarves or separate collars are added. Han designs are differentiated from Manchu designs by maintaining an attached collar on tops for women, but due to the differences in collar shape, the short collar design in Hanfu was the only viable solution to Qing designs.

When laid flat or hung, a Hanfu standup collar reverts to a shortened cross collar shape. Clothing and photo from Minghua Tang, 2011 catalogue.

In contrast to the rounded Mandarin collars from the Qing to the present time, Hanfu standup collars insist on metal locks, wipe across the neck without any rounded corners, and when laid flat, the collar reverts to a shortened cross-collar piece, and gives generous room for the neck because of extra space given by the metal locks holding the collar back open rather than pulling it together.

Fast forward to today: Although now we know that the standup collar is not a Manchu innovation but a Chinese one, there is still some reservation by the Hanfu circle about wearing this design in the promotion of Hanfu. As an ‘alternative’ design that only existed in the final days of the Ming, some consider the collar design as ‘period dress’, while others consider it as being too different from conventional Hanfu collar archetypes and should be avoided to prevent confusion to outsiders who have little idea about the clothing. Nonetheless, the standup collar long Ao has a dedicated support base among female Hanfu wearers as winter fashion, and they often boast of delicate gold or silver embroidery, lavish brocades, and fancy metal snaplocks. Following Ming conventions, this Ao is considered casual (or sharp/’posh’ casual) and is not worn as the outermost layer except for display purposes.

Now that we see that the standup collar is a byproduct of the Chinese cross-collar, how is a piece actually produced? It is not much different in construction from a Ru or Ao top as taught in previous tutorials, but with a shorter collar piece. Because of the metal locks, the natural curve of the top edge does deform a little in the wearing of the piece, but the construction of the piece should not make adjustments because of it. Below is an illustrated guide to the construction of the standup collar top. More

Purpose to Ritual, Value of Harmony — How the Hanfu Movement changes and challenges modern morality

Hanfu - a symbol of a reflective and conscious people?

Source: (【随想】礼之用,和为贵(昨日羊肉串事件随想) by 月曜使·檀越之) English title: [Random thoughts] Purpose of Ritual, Value of Harmony – Thoughts after yesterday’s lamb skewer event; by Yueyaoshi*Tanyuezhi (深衣出门九小时【带图片预告】 by 容漱雪凌紫冥) (post 61-64)
English title: Nine hours wearing a Shenyi outside [with picture preview] by Rongshu Xueling Zhiming

Translated by Satsuki Shizuka for

Translator’s foreward: As the year 2011 comes to a close, comes a time for us to think back and make some conclusions on our doings and faults over the past year. Since Wang Letian’s expedition in September 2003, the cultural scape of a rapidly modernizing (or Westernizing, as some claim) China has gradually shifted towards thinking of a culturally, environmentally, and humanely sensitive future, rather one solely dependent on economy and efficiency.

Here I bring two stories of how a common Chinese person, through understanding and putting into practice a respect for his or her own tradition, can become proactive members in developing mutual respect and dignity for other people and cultures, and truly become world citizens and upholding global peace. Their actions may be personal, but the power of one is great when it is modelled by all by sheer virtue.


Meetings, music, and more meetings!

What are we up to?

For those wondering what TQS has been up to these days, the picture on the right gives a little hint for what is about to come — and here’s a hint, it’ll be online, and you’ll see it soon.

A big kudos to the great human beings in this picture (from left):
Front row: Yanyan Zhu, (Helen Wu), Esther Zhang, Rainbow Xu, Thomas Yun
Back row: Mr. Xu, Frederick Yiu, William Ho, Juni Yeung, Jason Ye
In other news, here are two dates to mark down for upcoming events and gatherings:
– Thursday, December 22, 2011 (Dongzhi, Winter Solstice)
We will be holding a (smaller) gathering, honouring our tradition of holding a meeting on that day, sharing great music and a great (vegan-friendly) hot pot dinner! Update:
Address: Esther Zhang’s Place, 75 Iangrove Terrace, Toronto, ON
– Saturday, January 21, 2012 (Just before 4710 Chinese New Year)
We are organizing yet another major public event, in collaboration with the Toronto Chinese Orchestra and Evergreen Brick Works! Again, stay tuned for more details.
Remember, always stay tuned to TorGuqin events by subscribing to this blog (see upper right hand corner)!

Solidarity Into the Future: Dico’s @ Chengdu, 1 Year Later

Where one falls, many will take his/her place. From left: 玺儿,麦麦,二分月,墨香,白·胭脂,思晓,盛唐明华,易易,龙的传人.

Original title: 成都德克士烧汉服事件一周年——现场照片以及视频 (1 Year Anniversary of the Chengdu Dico’s Hanfu Burning Incident – On-site photos and videos)
Original Author: Bai*Yanzhi 白·胭脂
Translation/commentary: Satsuki Shizuka

Translator’s note: On the evening of October 16 one year ago, Sun Ting (alias; net alias Muka)’s unfortunate encounter with fanatic anti-Japanese demonstrators has left a significant scar among Chinese people, as their own kind mutilated their brethren in the name of ‘patriotism’, but led to international humiliation and a stinging pain among those who believe in restoring China as a land of virtue and decorum. One year later today, we still see young Chinese students being oppressed at school as their hair gets forcefully cut and publically ridiculed for wearing their traditional clothes, along with a plethora of other social injustices — but the social consciousness continues to stand in vigilance, making a stand for the expression of national and self identity, without the oppression of silent or violent discrimination.

Walking down Chunxi Road, downtown Chengdu.

Last year on this day in Chengdu, a shocking event happened here — the Hanfu burning incident. Now, a year has passed, but we have not drowned ourselves in sorrow and anger. We are happy to see that in the events of this year, with the dedication and work of all our tongpao comrades, more and more people are aware, understanding and accepting about Hanfu. One year later today, we still wear our beautiful yi-shang, standing in the very same place, and honestly accepting the dubious, shocked, or appreciating gaze of bypassers. We need to use our minute bits of strength, to tell everyone in the world: They can burn up Muka [Sun Ting]’s Hanfu, but they will never burn away the Hanfu in our hearts. Restoring Huaxia is a heavy responsibility, and the road is long. We will continue to walk down this path.

Video: and


A Video Walkthrough of an Archery Ritual from Beijing Hanfu Association

As mentioned in 2009 on this blog in detail regarding the logistics and music (and more) of the She Li, or Archery Ritual, here is a detailed, half-hour special produced by our friends in Beijing Hanfu Association on the rundown of the ritual itself.

The language spoken is Mandarin, but we have (painstakingly) annotated the entire episode on Youtube, in the English language.

Let us make our small contribution, to revive our Nation of Rituals and Righteousness!

Yesa and Tieli for Dummies: Compiling all Hanfu-making techniques into one robe

The embroidered Tieli is most famously known as the outfit of the "Dongchuang secret agents" of the Ming government. However, the design itself is worn by men of all trades.

The Yesa (read Yeh-sah, written 曳撒) is a distinctive Hanfu design which stood out particular as Ming-era fashion. As a Sinicized version of the Mongolian Jisun (banquet) robe, the function of this robe changed greatly as it changed hands to the Han. Rather than formal wear, yesa are worn by Imperial eunuchs, servants and street-running pages, as well as martial and military parade regalia. The large pleated skirt in front greatly enhances the hip and thigh profile, and with the robe sometimes worn short enough to expose the entire boot, it exemplifies the masculine prowess of the wearer.

The distinctive feature of the yesa is the construction of the outfit itself – while looking from the front it consists of a cross-collared top sewn together to a pleated skirt, the back is a straight long robe. The skirt is not sewn shut to the back piece, but rather use two large outward-extending “flaps” or “ears” to cover the side slits. While not as “protective” as a daopao’s flap design which ties to the insides of the back panel, it creates a unique side and back profile that allows unrestrained leg movement and access to the inner layer of clothing, making it convenient, for example, reaching to trouser pockets.

The Tieli (read [ti-eh]-lee, written 貼里) is a variant design of the yesa, but instead of its unique bottom design, it is a pleated skirt attached to the top and worn in a classic manner similar to any long robe or shenyi. Both the yesa and tieli serve similar functions and offer similar freedom of movement, and hence are loved by commoners and elite alike. Moreover, tieli are often seen as the outer clothing of young boys and servants of pre-adolescent age, making the unclumsy design suitable for all ages. More

Beyond Flat Cutting: Debunking Hanfu as a 2-D tradition

N15 Restoration Team

Artifact N15 Restoration team (from left): 王鹏智 Wang Pengzhi, 柯宇鹏 Ke Yupeng, 鲁余栋 Lu Yudong, 琥璟明 Hu Jingming, 罗海波 Luo Haibo

Original Title: 华采衣兮若英—江陵马山一号楚墓(N15)复原 [Flamboyant and Illustrious Clothing Such As Petals – Restoration of Jiangling Mashan Chu Grave No.1 Artifact N15]
By: Hu Jingming, Hunan Normal University
Translated by: Juni Yeung  

Translator’s Foreword: This is a prime example of how the Hanfu movement challenges previous authorities on Chinese historical sartorial research. Whereas in the past visual analysis of actual artifacts and artwork alone made up the bulk of empirical research, the new generation takes to active analysis of the clothing’s structure as a livable, usable piece. Numerous pieces of knowledge regarding the history and structure of Hanfu itself have been debunked as myths thanks to these people’s work, and leads us to all the more in awe to the creativity and genius of our ancestors.  

Hu’s Foreword: As Duanwu arrives, our restoration research project draws to a successful close. This may be a new way of examining and savoring our history, as we try in the past to understand history through reading words, but now we analyze and organize historical accounts with archaeological data, and restoring a visual impression to actualize our point. Not only is this an effective supplement to textual information, but also a more sensual way of interpreting history. From restoring our ancient clothing, we also provide valuable reference material for our modern fashion design and development.  

This restoration was done by the Hanfu Research Team at Huangshi Polytechnic Institute Fashion major, consisting of Hu Jingming, Lu Yudong, Luo Haibo, Wang Pengzhi, and Ke Yupeng. In order to achieve as close a texture to the original artifact, we used silk as the fabric of choice, while the collar is real silk brocade. We combined hand sewing with machine sewing for our handiwork.  

Also, we would like to thank netizen Piaoguo Yinzhou 飘过沂州, as her research results have provided great help and guidance to our efforts. When our model put on the piece, I could feel this piece’s own unique aura and aesthetic, and I am nothing short of awed and inspired from our ancestor’s sense of beauty and creativity.  

In the modern context, I believe this clothing is really suitable as a wedding dress, but definitely not something for the streets. It must be worn on a clean, polished floor, or a carpeted, bamboo-matted ground, or of the sort.  

Let us begin. More

A Beginner’s Guide to Hanfu: The PPT Presentation

Powerpoint presentation: Hanfu, the (Real) Traditional Chinese Clothing

For prolonged periods of time, this Hanfu Facebook group has queried if there is any way to classify the “hundreds of designs” throughout Chinese fashion history into something making sense, or whether Hanfu should be “modernized”, or if some Hanfu designs could be made more “practical”…such are common questions to what Hanfu, the traditional Chinese clothing, is all about.

Behold: TorGuqin presents: A Comprehensive Powerpoint (2007) Presentation on the subject. Please feel free to download and watch this. (Unfortunately, a .ppt document is not available, as a compatable file would near to 50MB in size)

The entire show is un-audio’d, and fully automated. Clicking the mouse button skips the entire slide to the end.

Feel free to leave any extra questions here, or in the Hanfu Facebook group.

Understanding Hanfu aesthetics mathematically: Curves of a Robe

Original Title: [Technical] Overview of Hanfu collar curves and lower hem curves and its drawing methods
By: Hu Jingming, Hunan Normal University
Translated by: Juni L. Yeung   

Translator’s disclaimer: The views expressed by the original author by no means represent the only authority on the issue, nor does TorGuqin or the translator unconditionally endorse the opinions expressed in this article. The following article is translated by TorGuqin for reference, discussion, and similar uses only.  The theories expressed in this article may not apply to certain designs or articles of clothing, and should not be taken as an all-encompassing rule to judge the make or reproduction of articles of clothing, modern or otherwise.  

Misconceptions of the Collar.

First, let us look at the first diagram (1.1). I intentionally drew this wrong (meaning the collar line) – because I found that many Hanfu diagrams are drawn like so, to the extend where even historical records are also drawn this way. This is an obvious and serious fault, as people ask whether the collar can be a straight line. In actuality, only a few artifacts prove such examples, and the majority of surviving articles have an arc. Regarding the worn effects of the collar with or without the curve, it will be explained later in this article. However, the most lethal mistake to point out is the turn on the collar (by the shoulders): if it is drawn as a sharp corner without a curve, it is definitely wrong. This is a matter of the craft: even if you spend a lot of effort putting the collar on, many creases will form in a radiating pattern out towards the front and sides from the turn.    More

Purchase/Watch Hanfu Chunwan 2011 DVD today!

The DVD box for 2011 Hanfu Chunwan.

At long last the DVD boxset for Hanfu Chunwan (2011 Hanfu Chinese New Year Gala) is out, featuring in HD two hours of traditional Chinese elegant arts and entertainment, including guqin, guzheng, drama, dance, and tea ceremony.

With the release of this feature boxset, subtitles are now available in five different languages: Chinese, English, Russian, Japanese, and French.
You can order the boxset from Taobao, at:  or search by Taobao ID: chunyan82000.
Alternatively, you can watch the entire show (in HD) on Youtube above.
Due to time restrictions, the Toronto Guqin Society/The ONE Gallery’s performance was cut in various places. To watch the complete New Year’s greetings from us, please click below.

Rethinking the Hanfu Movement, Feb. ’11 (Causality and Diaspora)

Criticisms of the Heaven Sacrifice in early Feb 2011 in Beijing for resurrecting memories of Manchu tyranny, and relagating them to the epic-scale natural disasters in China, as they both started in 2008.

In response to a comment posted in an earlier “Rethinking the Hanfu Movement” series article, a question raised was, “If the Republic of China (in Taiwan), Hong Kong, Macau, and overseas Chinese are largely unaffected by the destruction of the Cultural Revolution and have maintained the authenticity of Chinese culture, why didn’t the Hanfu Movement start there, but rather the mainland instead?”

A simple online search for this question first leads to a Baidu Zhidao Encyclopedia entry quoting summaries from the discussion in Baidu Hanfu Bar (which was reposted on Tianya):

[Quote] According to popular explanation, Chinese cultural traditions are mainly preserved in Taiwan, Hong kong and overseas Chinese communities, and the mainland is where the tradition is at the thinnest. This is to the degree where Singaporean academics suggested that china should “Import Chinese tradition from overseas”, and people like Du Weiming and others wanting to investigate “after the Cultural Revolution, is there any news of re-emerging traditional culture”.

Yet the most odd thing was, the first people to bring back out Hanfu originated from the mainland, and the most vocal and active Hanfu Movement also is a mainland movement – not one from the “better preserved” regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, or overseas. Why is that?

As we all know, the Manchu Qing used violent acts to force the Han Chinese to adopt new dress, and its effects were not effectively cleansed during the Republican period. Today, in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas, this set of things [ie. Manchu-style dress] have hijacked the position of “traditional costume”. Despite anyone having an interest towards traditional Chinese dress, all he/she can contact is Qipao, Magua, and of the sort (which should be called “counterfeit ethnic costume”).

It is different for the mainland, however, as this concept of Qipao/Magua representation of counterfeit ethnic dress was completely swept out by the “iron broom” of the various movements after the Liberation (especially during the “Destroy the Four Olds” of the Cultural Revolution). This has caused a short blank in the history of Han ethnic costume, to which its historical meaning and effects cannot be underestimated:

  1. Because the Han Chinese no longer have their traditional dress (to its truest meaning, since they lost even the “counterfeit” stuff like Qipao/Magua), its position in relation with its sibling ethnicities [TL: of the 56-ethnic Zhonghua Minzu] and their flamboyant and unique dress becomes an extremely embarassing one. This has in turn become the impetus for people to find their ethnic dress.
  2. Because the “counterfeit ethnic dress” forced by the Manchu Qing also disappeared, it has given us [ie. Hans] a unique opportunity to re-establish a code of ethnic dress. Although in its initial stages, the “counterfeit traditions” lingering in Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas caused some interference (such as the so-called Tangzhuang as seen in APEC [of 2001]), but since we are no longer living in the Qing, once we have made clear the true forms of Han ethnic clothing, then those “Tangzhuang” and other “counterfeit traditions” will immediately lose their ground, and step back from the stage of history once and for all.

Originally intending to completely decimate traditional Chinese culture, the “anti-tradition” has destroyed instead the “counterfeit tradition” as rewritten by the Manchu Qing period. With the original purpose to destroy all traces of tradition, “Breaking the Four Olds” have become the prerequisite context for the renaissance of Hanfu. History at times is just simply this strange. [Translation Juni Yeung]

 Being a summary of Internet discussions, there are naturally insufficienies and more questions to this explanation. In this article, I shall try to list out a few. If there are any further questions, please feel free to leave a comment in the end. More

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