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

The Dummies’ Guide to the Shuhe, Part 1


Source: Baidu Hanfu Bar
Author: Hu Jingming 琥璟明, President, Art Association of Hunan Normal University. 

Translator’s note: Hu Jingming (b. 1991, courtesy name Zongwu) is an expert on Hanfu, Chinese armors, and martial practices (including archery). A “Mount and Blade” and “Total War” fan, and member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). Hu has published various articles online regarding the process of reproducing armor and military wear, raising the awareness of Chinese armors as an artisanry and for practical purposes. He despises how modern TV dramas create ludicrous mockeries of historical armors, which would be “disasterous if actually used”. He is currently a Fine Arts student in the Hunan Normal University. 

A Shuhe (“Shoo-huh”) refers to a tight-sleeved cross-collared top that extends to the knees, coupled with tied trousers. It is the basis of almost all underclothing, the casual outfit of commoners and labourers, and is usually the clothing worn under armor.

Asides from being a Shuhe tutorial, Hu’s detailed accounts are also an excellent beginner’s guide to making clothes and tailoring practices. Because of this level of detailed instruction, this tutorial is split into two parts, with the first section covering basic tailoring of the pieces, suturing, and hand prints. The latter half will cover curved hems, collars, and seaming. More

2010 March Break Hanfu Workshop

Top Yi cutting schematics. Image by Ganling of Baidu Hanfu Bar.

 Toronto Guqin Society (TQS) will be having its March Break Hanfu DIY workshop to teach hands-on techniques for basic designs of traditional Han Chinese clothing, outlining the principles of fu幅 division, collar design, measurements and shapes, and much more. The workshop will also allow participants to make their own yi-shang standard based design, which includes:
– Shenyi (Deep robe)
– Ruqun/Aoqun/Yishang (top & skirt)
– Zhongyi/Zhongdan (midlayer clothes)

The workshop is divided into two parts:
Friday, March 12, 2010 @ 1630H (4:30PM): Material purchasing outing, meetup at Yonge @ Bloor TTC station.

Friday, March 19, 2010 @ 1200H (Noon): Workshop at noted venue location. Please be on time, and bring your own materials and sewing machine if you have one!

*** Registration by email (jt_revolution (at) hotmail (dot) com) or Facebook PM (Juni L. Yeung) is mandatory. ***

Facebook Event page:

The Dummies’ Guide to the Aoqun

Ever wondered how the glamorous design of the Aoqun was made? What is it that makes the whole set worth thousands of yuan, asides from the superior quality of the fabric? How is the top made so that it forms the body so well but remain comfortable, or how does the skirt hold itself up? Here, I will try to deliver the “secrets” right from Chinese sources. 

The Aoqun 襖裙 is comprised primarily of two pieces – an Ao 襖 top, which is defined as a “top with cotton lining, and goes down to just below the waist”, followed by a Qun 裙 – or more specifically the “Horse-faced skirt” 馬面裙, with small pleates on both sides and one large “face” pleate on the front and back. The Aoqun is a commonly-seen design among mid-late Ming relics from wealthy families and the royal court, as part of the casual or semi-formal fall-winter wardrobe. Currently, unlined versions of the Aoqun are also produced for the market – although technically “Ruqun”, they are still labelled Aoqun for noting its iconic Ming conical cutting, and the top worn untucked to the skirt. 

Although some argue that the Aoqun gives the woman an older image, real life examples show that with the right colour and material, this design can give just as a youthful image as any other Hanfu design. 



June 2023