Traditional Hanfu costumes tell their own story

A new exhibition has opened a window into the traditional outfits worn by Han Chinese people throughout its long history.


An ongoing exhibition has opened a window into the traditional outfits worn by Han Chinese people throughout its long history.

The exhibit, which opened on January 11 at National Wetland Museum of China, is offering people an opportunity to get a thorough understanding of the concept and philosophy that lies behind Hanfu, the traditional outfit worn by the Han Chinese people.

More than 150 reproduced pieces of upper and lower body garments, hats and accessories, since the Warring States Period (476-221 BC) down to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), are on display.

“Hangzhou has two large Hanfu societies and a lot of Hanfu lovers. They have regular dress-up meetings but that is limited to a small group of people. There are few public spaces, such as museums, to learn about the culture,” said Cai Yan, a member of the Hanfu society in Hangzhou and also curator of the show.

The first part of the exhibition elaborates on the basic classification and nomenclature before touching on any concrete dresses, followed by the second part on etiquettes and rituals.

Sun Jiewei

A quju dress reproduced after the excavations from Mawangdui, tombs of King Ma in the Han Dynasty

The last section clarifies the differences between Hanfu, Tang suit, Japanese kimono and hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.

The three dresses, reproduced exactly as those pieces excavated from Mawangdui, the tombs of King Ma in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), are probably the most eye-catching of all the exhibits on display at the exhibition.

The three pieces are one cotton quju, one cotton zhiju and one silk quju dress which were all traditional types of dress back then.

Quju is a long piece of garment wrapped diagonally around the body, which is further fastened with a sash at the waistline. Zhiju, in contrast, is simply two straight lapel pieces sewed together, which were worn by both men and women at the time.

All exhibits in the show are accompanied by detailed texts, which allows visitors to understand how a certain piece of garment was dressed and paired with the correct headwear.

There are also interactive programs, seminars, lectures, performances and even teaching sessions for trying on Hanfu every weekend at the museum.

“The ultimate goal is to remind people of the traditional ethics and etiquettes held by our predecessors for thousands of years. The clothing is only a carrier of that,” said Cai.


Date: Through March 2, closed on Mondays

Address: 402 Tianmushan Rd

Admission: Free



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