Hey everyone, sorry for the hiatus! I’m back now with a new series of articles—Hanfu Unearthed, a series examining the more technical, historical origins of hanfu. This series of articles is going to focus on the archaeological side of hanfu research: the relics that we’ve uncovered from various dig sites and tombs. The way that hanfu is defined by most is that its shape and construction is designed off of these relics, so let’s take a look at the real historical references that we have.
A quick disclaimer—this series of articles is a result of my own research. I’m not a trained historian or archaeologist, I’m an inexperienced student with an interest in hanfu and chinese history. I don’t have a works cited page for these (though I can point you towards some of the resources I used off the top of my head if you really want them), and I didn’t spend a long time verifying my sources beyond checking with multiple sources to make sure the information was consistent, because frankly I don’t have the time to do that. All articles will come with this disclaimer, so please, please understand that I’m doing my best with what I have and forgive me for any mistakes!!!
A few notes on how to read these articles: I recommend that anyone wanting to read these first reads my Hanfu in Components series—it introduces some of the terminology in this series and helps you understand a little more about the way hanfu is constructed. Since this is a more high-level series, I’m not going to spend a lot of time clarifying very small details because there’s too much information to get through, so having some background on what some terms mean will be really helpful. For all you newbies out there, you’re of course still welcome to read through these at your leisure! Just know that you’ll probably understand a lot more if you spend some more time getting the basics down.
The format of each article will be similar: each article will be centered around one archaeological site. I’ll introduce the site with a little information on its history and its owner, and then I’ll go over the key pieces of clothing found in those sites—some of the sites have over twenty pieces of clothing so I won’t be able to go over all of them, plus the fact that a lot of them are really hard to get pictures of, but we’ll definitely go over the highlights! I’ll be starting from the Han dynasty dig sites and progress chronologically forwards. In terms of language convention, I’ll be using the same format to introduce Chinese terms as before: the first time a Chinese term comes up, I’ll display it in the format of (traditional chinese)/(simplified chinese)/pinyin with tone number/English translation. For example, hanfu would be 漢服/汉服/han4 fu2/Hanfu. Given the length of these articles it’ll probably take me a long time to finish this series and I apologize for that, but I hope you enjoy what’s coming!
Once again, I’m not a trained historian or archaeologist—I’m writing these articles partially to compile my research for myself and also because I know there are a lot of you out there who want to see this information but can’t access it because of language barriers or just time constraints. If anyone wants to help me find resources, I’d welcome your help—just recognize that I might not have time to get eeeeeverything that you all want to offer/want to know into my articles!
Now, have fun reading about the Mawangdui Han Tomb—and stay tuned for more.