The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu Clothing

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The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu Clothing

Introduction: In recent years, more and more young people are wearing Hanfu clothing and walking confidently around city skyscrapers and tourist attractions. On traditional festivals, various kinds of cultural activities in Hanfu enrich the cultural connotation of traditional festivals in the form of festive folklore, cultural performances.

As an important carrier of China’s excellent traditional culture, modern Hanfu clothing has become one of the most distinctive ways for young people to express their cultural self-confidence and an important symbol for conveying China’s excellent traditional culture to the world, through the creative transformation and innovative development of craftsmen.

Modern Hanfu clothing: a dress system that embodies an ancient civilization

The full name of Hanfu clothing is the traditional costume system of the Chinese nation. Modern Hanfu is a traditional national costume system built by modern people inheriting the basic features of ancient Hanfu, and the mainstream typical features can be summarized as: “Ping(平)Zhong(中)Jiao(交)You (右), Kuan(宽)Tuan(褖)He(合)Ying(缨)”, which is not only a description of the appearance, but also contains the connotation closely related to Chinese culture, fully reflecting the Chinese costume advocating subtlety, restraint, solemnity, and stability.
The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu Clothing

  1. The first feature: “Ping (平, flat)” refers to the way of making Hanfu by folding and cutting, with the shoulder lines of the front and back body pieces being connected to each other in a flat structure, and the clothing shape of “not breaking the shoulder line” and “not changing the direction of the warp and weft of the cloth”. The whole garment has a midline folded shape when laid flat, and no matter how the style of the garment changes, the concept of “flat cut and folded” is maintained.
  2. The second feature: “Zhong (中, centralized)” refers to the fact that the body of a Hanfu has a center seam in the front and back, maintaining a symmetrical center seam cut habit, creates structural differences with other national dresses. Because the front and back seams are perpendicular to the ground, it is given the meaning of “uprightness, fairness, and uprightness”.
  3. The third feature: “Jiao (交, intersection)” means that when wearing Hanfu is completed through “intersection”, such as the cross collar is the left and right placket overlapping, the skirt waist is the left and right circumference, and the trouser waist is the two pieces overlapping. This is also given the meaning of celestial and terrestrial forces in harmony and the combination of Yin and Yang.
  4. The fourth feature: “You (右, right)“, which refers to the appearance and custom of wrapping the right placket side before the left, shaped like a y-word. The principle that extends to the lower garment. As one of the essential features of Chinese clothing, “You” implies the concept of civilization and order.
  5. The fifth feature: “Kuan (宽, width)“, the material of Hanfu is much larger than the need to cover the human body, forming the characteristics of “loose sleeve roots and wide hem”, the hem of the skirt is more than twice the waist, forming the image of refined, gentleman’s clothing, containing the philosophical charm of the unity of heaven and man.
  6. The sixth feature: “Tuan(褖)“, which means the edge of a garment, is a kind of wrapping technique. In ancient times, a garment’s collar without an edge was considered crude and called “Lan (褴)”, but if it was sewn and mended, it was called “L褛”, which is an idiom of “Yishan Lanlv (衣衫褴褛)” to describe a poor life. Modern Hanfu-fashion dresses inherit the system of the Zhou Rites and keep the structure of “Xuren Goubian (续衽钩边)”, that is, the front lapel is connected with a piece of edges to cover up the overlapping places, which has the meaning of inheriting the state of ritual and righteousness.
  7. The seventh feature is: “He (合)“, which means that the sleeve length of the Hanfu is the length of the hands placed in front of the abdomen and held together, and the cuffs should be closed, so as to restrain the sleeve length and the manner, especially for formal dresses. Implying the meaning of “harmony and symbiosis”.
  8. The eighth feature is: “Ying (缨, ribbon)“, meaning the ribbon fixed parts or tassel ornaments, is also the fixed way of the Hanfu garment. Different from the Western-style clothing single button or zipper fixed type. If using buttons, is hidden in an inconspicuous place, forming a hidden buckle tied.

In short, almost all components and structures of Hanfu clothing have corresponding traditional Chinese cultural connotations, that is, looking for patterns in nature, which in turn give cultural interpretations. Whether it is originally due to craftsmanship or other objective reasons, it will eventually be given a cultural interpretation. The difference in the philosophy of dressmaking is reflected in the different aesthetic tastes.

The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu Clothing

From a structural point of view, Hanfu is flat, but when worn on the human body, it will show different curves, and its shape gives people a feeling of moving with the wind and unrestrained elegance. This is different from the Western costumes, which advocate openness and sensuality and emphasize the aesthetics of human body curves, forming two distinct categories of costumes, showing the difference in understanding between Chinese and Western cultures.

Returning to life: exploring ways to modernize the traditional culture

The emergence of Hanfu is more like a “resurrection” of a dominant cultural symbol as a medium of transmission of traditional Chinese culture. According to a survey, in 2019, the number of Chinese Hanfu enthusiasts reached 3,351,000, which is the fourth consecutive year of high growth of more than 70%, and 85% of them are under 25 years old according to age. In terms of motivation, 47.2 percent of the total number of consumers were motivated by their love for Hanfu culture, while 34.7 percent were motivated by promoting traditional culture, highlighting the appeal of Hanfu and traditional culture to young people.

The costume itself has a lifestyle and folklore character, similar to food and language, and is a necessity in people’s lives rather than a cultural skill to be mastered. For ordinary people, “wearing Hanfu clothing” has a low threshold and can easily become a carrier for expressing personal identity complexes, as well as an outward symbol of social attributes in certain occasions.
The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu Clothing
It is precisely this attribute that makes Hanfu more like a cultural exploration in the process of modernizing Chinese traditional culture, the core of which is to find the “use” of traditional culture in folklife based on an alteration As the scholar Zhu Qianzhi put it, this is “not the inheritance of the old culture, but the creation of a new national culture”.

In the practice of Hanfu revival, it is not only to confine the research, production and research and development to the historical framework of traditional costumes and “restore” some ancient costumes, but also to find the commonality with the ancient Han costumes and carry out modern practice and innovation on the basis of preserving the commonality, so as to realize the modern application and continuity of traditional costumes and give new cultural meanings to the folklife scenes.
The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu Clothing
It is the mission and value of the Hanfu movement to present the charm of costumes and cultural symbols in daily life by taking the general public as the main body of communication, instead of simply relying on cultural relics, performance groups, and academic exchanges, to make the development path of the Hanfu movement conform to modern folklife, integrate into modern society and explore a successful path for the revival of other traditional cultures.

On November 12, 2003, the traditional Chinese costume was brought back to the limelight when it was worn on the streets by Wang Letian, an ordinary man. Nowadays, more and more large-scale events have been held, and the contestants of the “Chinese Poetry Conference” and the world-famous video blogger Li Ziqi, also entered the public eye.

In the eyes of the world, Hanfu clothing is no longer a retro show or a strange costume, but a visual feast for the return of cultural confidence.

The Cultural Code of Modern Chinese Hanfu ClothingAs one of the traditional costumes of the Chinese nation, Hanfu carries traditional culture and national spirit, and is the condensation and presentation of traditional cultural aesthetics and modern customs and habits. It reflects modern people’s love for excellent traditional culture and their attitude to a better life, and is the embodiment of cultural diversity, aesthetic diversity, and lifestyle diversity.

Article Source: Guangming Daily - Yang Na

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