Last Friday 3/17 I was invited to a local Chinese school to give a small talk on hanfu! The aim was to share hanfu culture with more people here and to present an example to the kids of what doors can be opened to you by maintaining language skills.
A little background—I myself attended this once-a-week school from kindergarten up until 6th grade, upon which I pulled out of the school to invite the Chinese teacher that taught me in 6th grade to tutor me at home privately. She was a great tutor and a key part of inspiring my interest in ancient Chinese culture through poetry, history, and more, keeping me engaged while analyzing Tang Dynasty shi and Song Dynasty ci. As I got busy, I stopped the tutoring when I was in 10th grade—and I was introduced to the concept of hanfu not even a few months later! I’ve kept up communication with this teacher for a while (whose name I won’t disclose for privacy reasons) and visited her in Taiwan throughout the years. This year she came back to teach at the local chinese school and invited me to give a talk on hanfu there.
For the first part of the talk, we chose 5 sets I designed to showcase changes in style throughout the dynasties. Some of the school’s students were coerced/convinced to model these sets in a casual little fashion show in the classroom.
After a quick introduction to myself and the concept of hanfu, we went through the dynasties and pointed out historically referenced parts of each set, showcasing them on the models. Unfortunately the sample for the Han Dynasty set had not yet arrived so we didn’t have a physical set to show off, but all of the other sets were here, including the Wei/Jin Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Song Dynasty (one masculine one feminine), and Ming Dynasty.
We compared the difference between the feminine sleeves of the Ming Dynasty and Song Dynasty tops, the layers of the Tang Dynasty Quekuapao, and showed pictures of the archaeological artifacts referenced in the making of these garments, like the artifacts found in the Mawangdui Han Tomb and the Shosoin Repository.
After that, I talked a bit about the production process of hanfu, the design process, and how I built the process up from knowing nothing to researching and developing it to where it is now: how fabrics are sourced, how I do research for designs, how I communicate with workshops and tailors who make my hanfu.
All in all I’m pretty sure most of the kids there fell asleep by the end of it (I don’t blame them one bit, it was 9pm on a school night and mandatory for them, plus probably half of them did not understand what I was saying since the whole thing was in mandarin) but the adults in the back were very enthusiastic and encouraging! I’m really grateful for this opportunity to share hanfu culture and my experience with it, even if I was so nervous I was practically shaking up there and forgot half my language skills and repeated myself like ten times while blanking on what to say next. I hope more events like this can happen in the future!