Category: mens hairstyles

What is the male Hanfu crown-thing with the ha…

What is the male Hanfu crown-thing with the hairpin called? Thanks in advance. =)

Hi, thanks for the question! 

The crown-like headwear with a hairpin that is worn with men’s Hanfu is called Guan/冠. The Guan is a headdress that can cover either the full top of the head or just the topknot, and makes use of a hairpin which goes across the topknot to stabilize itself. Please see my posts on traditional Chinese male headwear and Guan in particular for more information.

You may also be thinking of a specific type of Guan called Mianguan/冕冠, which is a formal headdress that was worn by royalty and officials. 

The Mianguan consists of a crown topped with a long board, with strands of jade beads draped from the two ends. Please see my post on Mianguan for more information. (Illustration Via)

For more references, please check out my Guan tag. Hope this helps! 

(Photos via Chinese TV series “Secret of the Three Kingdoms”)

okay so I saw your tags about the hair of Chin…

okay so I saw your tags about the hair of Chinese men being political and was just wondering if you could elaborate??? I'm really interested sorry!!

Haha I see well it’s a very interesting topic actually! 

1. Basically, for most of Chinese history both men and women kept long hair (so that’s 4000ish+ years). In ancient China, there was a lot of expansionism and conquest. The name ‘Middle Kingdom’ itself is a reflection of the view that China is the centre and nexus of civilisation. In that climate, the non-Han Chinese people getting conquered were regarded as uncivilised barbarians. Like, think something similar to Manifest Destiny? A lot of the cultural exceptionalism going around. For Chinese men, long, properly bound up hair was the way to go- it was associated with being civilised, cultured and other positive traits- short hair was associated with savagery and barbarism. 

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(Btw women’s clothing in Mulan looks to be inspired by multiple dynasties. The hairstyle here in any case, is quite accurate)

2. In the 1600s, the Ming Dynasty was conquered by the Manchu, a non-Han people, who founded the successive Qing dynasty. They enforced the Manchu queue hair style on Han Chinese men, which consists of the half shaven head (tonsured) and a long braid like you see in this Qing-era Chinese drama. It was basically supposed to be a mark of Manchu domination and victory- Han Chinese men with the queue had therefore submitted to Manchu rule. Failure to adopt this hairstyle was considered treasonous and one could even be executed. So now, short hair or any other style deviating from the queue = a sign of dissent. Han Chinese rebels the would therefore cut off their queues as a message about their politics. 

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(China has a lottttt of dramas from the imperial era, because there’s a lot of interesting material (plenty of murders, political intrigues and whatnot) and well it’s considered ideologically safe to make stuff about that era, compared to more recent…and controversial events.)

3. By the late 1800s, the defeat of the Qing dynasty in the Opium Wars and First Sino-Japanese war resulted in many humiliating concessions to other countries and China losing prestige as a regional power. Now people also saw things associated with the Qing era as antiquated and backwards. There were some attempts by more progressive members of the Qing court to reform, but the conservatives won the power struggle. When the Qing dynasty was finally overthrown in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, most Chinese men cut off their queues- and adopted short hair. They didn’t go back to the pre-Manchu hair- now short hair was symbolic of severing ties with the Manchu and I guess a symbol of modernity, as many revolutionary leaders had spent time in Western countries.‘Western’ was associated with progress, new ideas were seen as necessary to revive China from the seeming backwardness of the Qing dynasty. So Western dress and hairstyles were adopted. And here we are today, where many Chinese men keep short hair.

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(This is a photo of several members of the Revive China Society, which was meant to coordinate anti-Qing revolutionary activities.)

So yep, this was what I meant about the hairstyles of Chinese men being very political.

Hello! If you don't mind, can you describ…

Hello! If you don't mind, can you describe what hairstyles for men would've looked like in the past? I tried searching on Google images, but I keep getting modern hairstyles. Thank you in advance!

Hi, thanks for the question! I assume you’re referring to pre-Qing dynasty hairstyles for men. 

I recommend reading Politics of Men’s Hair in Chinese History for historical context on Chinese men’s hairstyles. I gave a summary of the various types of men’s hair accessories in this post, and went into more detail on the “Guan” (formal headdress) in this post. I also have a men’s headwear tag you can check out.

I condensed the following information from Wikipedia

In the past, both males and females would stop cutting their hair once they reached adulthood. As children they could cut and wear their hair however they wanted. However, once they reached the age of adulthood (20 for men and 15 for women), they underwent the Chinese coming-of-age ceremony (called Guan Li/冠礼 for men and Ji Li/笄礼 for women). They allowed their hair to grow long naturally until death, including facial hair.

This was due to Confucius’ teaching that “our bodies – to every hair and bit of skin – are received by us from our parents, and we must not…injure or wound them. This is the beginning of filial piety”. Below – cartoons depicting typical hairstyles of different ages:

image
image

Below – depiction of Guan Li (male coming-of-age ceremony). During the Guan Li, the man’s hair was combed into a bun and capped with a special headpiece:

image

When a man entered adulthood, he had to tie his long hair into a bun called Ji/髻 either on or behind his head and cover the bun up with different kinds of headdresses. Below – tutorial of how to create the bun:

image

A hair stick called Zan/簪 goes across the bun to stabilize the hair, like so:

image

From looking at the Terracotta Warriors, you can see that (at least during the Qin Dynasty) there were variations in the bun’s placement and shape, as well as different ways of braiding the hair:

image

The Chinese TV series Nirvana in Fire does a good job of portraying these distinctive braids:

image

Men would wear hats and headdresses over their hair, which often signified the wearer’s profession or social rank. Below – some of the many, many head-wear options for men:

image
image

Thus the ‘disheveled hair’, a common but erring depiction of ancient Chinese male figures seen in most modern Chinese period dramas or movies with hair hanging down from both sides and/or in the back, is historically inaccurate. 

image

However, I won’t deny that this hairstyle can look very good – there’s a reason why it’s such a popular depiction nowadays 😛

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Now some might wonder (as I did) why Jia Baoyu, the principal male character in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, is always depicted with ‘disheveled hair’, even in paintings and operas, if it’s historically inaccurate:

image

However, it makes sense if you consider that Jia Baoyu is an adolescent during the story. His hairstyle is used to indicate his status as a not-yet adult man.

While the Chinese male bun hairstyle, worn from the earliest times of Chinese history up to the end of the Ming dynasty, has all but disappeared from modern society, it is still worn as a regular hairstyle by one group of people: Taoist priests and practitioners. Below – modern-day Taoists: 

image

Hope this helps!

Hello! If you don't mind, can you describ…

Hello! If you don't mind, can you describe what hairstyles for men would've looked like in the past? I tried searching on Google images, but I keep getting modern hairstyles. Thank you in advance!

Hi, thanks for the question! I assume you’re referring to pre-Qing dynasty hairstyles for men. 

I recommend reading Politics of Men’s Hair in Chinese History for historical context on Chinese men’s hairstyles. I gave a summary of the various types of men’s hair accessories in this post, and went into more detail on the “Guan” (formal headdress) in this post. I also have a men’s headwear tag you can check out.

I condensed the following information from Wikipedia

In the past, both males and females would stop cutting their hair once they reached adulthood. As children they could cut and wear their hair however they wanted. However, once they reached the age of adulthood (20 for men and 15 for women), they underwent the Chinese coming-of-age ceremony (called Guan Li/冠礼 for men and Ji Li/笄礼 for women). They allowed their hair to grow long naturally until death, including facial hair.

This was due to Confucius’ teaching that “our bodies – to every hair and bit of skin – are received by us from our parents, and we must not…injure or wound them. This is the beginning of filial piety”. Below – cartoons depicting typical hairstyles of different ages:

image
image

Below – depiction of Guan Li (male coming-of-age ceremony). During the Guan Li, the man’s hair was combed into a bun and capped with a special headpiece:

image

When a man entered adulthood, he had to tie his long hair into a bun called Ji/髻 either on or behind his head and cover the bun up with different kinds of headdresses. Below – tutorial of how to create the bun:

image

A hair stick called Zan/簪 goes across the bun to stabilize the hair, like so:

image

From looking at the Terracotta Warriors, you can see that (at least during the Qin Dynasty) there were variations in the bun’s placement and shape, as well as different ways of braiding the hair:

image

The Chinese TV series Nirvana in Fire does a good job of portraying these distinctive braids:

image

Men would wear hats and headdresses over their hair, which often signified the wearer’s profession or social rank. Below – some of the many, many head-wear options for men:

image
image

Thus the ‘disheveled hair’, a common but erring depiction of ancient Chinese male figures seen in most modern Chinese period dramas or movies with hair hanging down from both sides and/or in the back, is historically inaccurate. 

image

However, I won’t deny that this hairstyle can look very good – there’s a reason why it’s such a popular depiction nowadays 😛

image

Now some might wonder (as I did) why Jia Baoyu, the principal male character in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, is always depicted with ‘disheveled hair’, even in paintings and operas, if it’s historically inaccurate:

image

However, it makes sense if you consider that Jia Baoyu is an adolescent during the story. His hairstyle is used to indicate his status as a not-yet adult man.

While the Chinese male bun hairstyle, worn from the earliest times of Chinese history up to the end of the Ming dynasty, has all but disappeared from modern society, it is still worn as a regular hairstyle by one group of people: Taoist priests and practitioners. Below – modern-day Taoists: 

image

Hope this helps!