Sleeves in Hanfu
The sleeves in Hanfu, also known as "Mei (袂)", its shape is quite unique in the history of the national costume of the whole world. Sleeves are usually called "narrow sleeves" and "large sleeves", also known as small sleeves and wide sleeves. The popular sleeves of different dynasties are different, but most of them are developed at the same time, only the shape is slightly different. So what's the difference between the sleeves in Hanfu?
Straight sleeve (直袖)
The straight sleeves of Hanfu can be simply divided into the narrow straight types and wide straight types. The former usually opens at about half of the upper body and extends horizontally outwards; the latter is wider and extends outwards from the waist opening. The square straight sleeve is open beside the belt, extending horizontally outwards, in a thin rectangle.
Pipa sleeve (琵琶袖)
Pipa sleeve is a kind of sleeve type of Hanfu, which is often seen in the Ming Dynasty. Pipa sleeve is used for Shenyi and other clothing. It is named Pipa sleeve for its large sleeve and smallmouth, narrow armpit and Pipa like shape. The sagging part of the sleeve is round and wide. The cuffs are obviously narrowed The sleeve body of the Pipa sleeve is arc-shaped, which is convenient for elbow extension and flexion. The cuff is tightened, it is convenient for daily activities.
Guang sleeve (广袖)
Guang sleeve is generally used for dresses in Hanfu, such as big shirt, Mianfu (冕服), etc. The wide sleeves in Hanfu formal dress generally extend outward and downward from the waist opening to reach the required length and shape. There will be an arc at the bottom of the sleeve.
Chuihu sleeve (垂胡袖)
Chuihu sleeve is very wide, such as Guang sleeve. However, the cuff is sharply closed, leaving only a narrow cuff. Therefore, this sleeve style is very characteristic in Han Dynasty clothing. "Hu" originally refers to the sagging flesh wrinkles under the throat of a yellow ox, so many implements with this shape are called "Hu".
Arrow sleeve (箭袖/窄袖)
Arrow sleeves originated from the northern ethnic costumes. Most of the northern ethnic costumes are arrow sleeves, and most of the sleeves in cold areas are wide and thick. The wide and thick sleeve edge is easy to turn up, which is convenient for riding, shooting, and working. Putting the sleeve edge down can keep warm. Because the cuffs are narrow and small, it is convenient to do any work and easy to keep warm. Therefore, after thousands of years, from military uniform, official uniform to common people's uniform, arrow sleeve is widely spread and becomes a kind of sleeve system of Hanfu.
Half sleeve (半袖)
In ancient China, sleeveless or short-sleeved tops appeared in the costumes of various periods. Most of these sleeves and sleeveless tops appeared in the Banbi (半臂), the Bijia (比甲) of the Hanfu.
Why are Chinese Hanfu sleeves so long?
First of all, not all hanfu styles have long and large sleeves.
In ancient times, the nobles were more likely to have long and wide sleeves, which was perhaps a sign of class. The common people were more likely to wear narrow sleeves suitable for labor.
The long and wide sleeves of the hanfu allowed the wearer's arms to hang down without showing their fingers. For example, the Shenyi in hanfu has special rules for the length and width of the sleeves, requiring that the tips of the fingers can fold back from the to the elbow when the wearer's arms are straightened.
The wide and long sleeves are one of the important features of hanfu, but not all hanfu has this feature, and the sleeve shape of hanfu has been changing through the dynasties, and there were also hanfu styles with small sleeves in the Song and Ming Dynasties as the main ones.