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Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

Time: 2019-06-19 11:29cheongsam dress Click:

Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

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Dressed in a flowing long robe adorned with beaded floral embroidery, stylist Xiao Hang looks like she surfaced from a time machine as she strides across the bustling Beijing metro, attracting glances and questions.

China has embraced Western fashion and futuristic technology, but a growing number of the young like Xiao are looking to the past for sartorial choices and donning traditional hanfu - "Han clothing."

These historic costumes of the Han ethnic majority are enjoying a renaissance in part because the government is promoting traditional culture to boost patriotism and national identity.

Period dramas have also contributed to the surge in interest for traditional garb. The Story of Minglan, a TV series set in the Song dynasty, garnered more than 400 million viewers in three days when it debuted this year.

Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

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Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

Back to Hanfu-ture with style of clothing

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There is no uniform definition of what counts as hanfu since each Han-dominated dynasty had its own style, but the outfits are characterized by loose, flowing robes and sleeves that hang to the knees.

"When we were little we would also drape sheets and duvets around ourselves to pretend we were wearing beautiful clothes," Xiao recalls.

Xiao, who used to work at a state-owned machine manufacturing company, now runs her own hanfu business, dressing people for photo shoots. She also plans hanfu-style weddings.

In today's China, the hanfu community spans the gamut: from history enthusiasts, anime fans, students to young professionals.

Beijing student Yang Jiaming wears his outfit under his high school uniform. "Two thirds of my wardrobe is hanfu," he says, decked out in a Tang-style beige gown and black boots at a hanfu gathering. And classmates and teachers have been supportive of his style, Yang says.

A government-supported revival in Chinese culture has given the hanfu community a boost, with President Xi Jinping supporting a Han-centric version of heritage.

In April, the Communist Youth League launched a two-day conference for traditional Chinese garb, including hanfu. A live broadcast of the event drew 20 million viewers with a visceral outpouring of emotions.

"Chinese have abandoned their own culture and chosen Western culture," wrote a user of Bilibili, a video-streaming platform popular among young anime, comic and gaming fans in China. "The red marriage gown has now become a wedding dress."

Clothes are the "foundation of culture," says Jiang Xue, who belongs to Beijing-based hanfu club Mowutianxia, which has received funding from the league.

"If we as a people and as a country do not even understand our traditional clothing or don't wear them, how can we talk about other essential parts of our culture?"

There is some way before the style gets mainstream acceptance.

In March, two students in northern Shijiazhuang Medical College were threatened with expulsion for wearing hanfu outfits.

Others say they are deterred by odd looks they get when wearing hanfu in public.

"I used to be very embarrassed to wear hanfu out," Cheng Xia says. But the 37-year-old screenwriter overcame her reservations after going out dressed in a full outfit last year.

The movement to revive Han ethnic clothing is raising questions about nationalism and Han-ethnocentrism - a sensitive issue in China where authorities are wary of inter-ethnic conflict.

For instance, within the hanfu community there is long-running opposition to the qipao, the high-collared, figure-hugging garment that used to be a staple of women's wardrobes.

Known as a cheongsam in Cantonese, the qipao - meaning "Qi robe" - began as a long, loose dress worn by the Manchu or Qi people who ruled from the 17th century to the early 1900s. Its popularity took off in 1920s Shanghai when it was modified into a fitted must-have dress favored by actresses and intellectuals as a symbol of femininity and refinement.

"Some people think the cheongsam was inspired in the Qing dynasty," says culture scholar Gong Pengcheng. "There are nationalist undertones in this issue," he adds, but "it is a good trend to explore traditional and clothing cultures. There are many things we can talk about, and we need not sink to nationalist confrontation."

High schooler Yang is more upbeat, saying: "At the very least we can wear our traditional clothes - just like the ethnic minorities."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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