hello! i was wondering if you'd be willing to share the sources you use for you info on hanfu, since i'm doing a comparative study on hanbok from korea and hanfu and i find it very hard to find sources that aren't completely in chinese… thank you so much in advance!
This may seem like a sort of vague question, but what exactly is that type of thin scarf/cloth you see wrapped around the arms and behind the back called? And what is the history of it?
Hi, thanks for the question – it’s not vague at all!
The thin, long scarf that you see worn with hanfu, wrapped around the arms and behind the back, is called pibo/披帛.
Sources state that pibo first appeared sometime around the Qin dynasty (221– 206 BC). It was originally used to protect against wind and cold air, and gradually became an important fashion accessory. There were two types of pibo: one was wider and shorter, used mostly by married women. The other type could be more than two meters in length, and was used mostly by unmarried women. Below – art of historical outfits with pibo from the Tang (1-3), Sui (4), and Song (5) dynasties:
Pibo really came into vogue during the Sui and Tang dynasties. The open, confident culture of the Tang meant that women were eager to utilize accessories to make their appearance and outfits more glamorous. Initially, it was worn by performers and those residing in the palace. After the rise of the Kaiyuan era, it became popular among the common people. Below – historical art depicting pibo from the Sui, Tang, and Five dynasties periods (581–960):
There were many ways of wearing pibo, and each time period had its own popular styles. For example, during the early Tang dynasty, women put pibo directly on their shoulders. During the middle Tang, one end was fixed to the chest, and the other end was draped around the shoulder:
After the Tang dynasty, the pibo gradually became less popular. It fell out of common use during the time of the Song dynasty. Recently, however, with the hanfu revival movement, pibo has been making a comeback as an essential accessory of hanfu. It comes in all sorts of fabrics, styles, and designs:
Pibo is generally only worn with ruqun, and wearing it with other hanfu styles such as quju or aoqun is seen as incongruous (see this post for definitions of hanfu terms). Of course, nowadays people can wear it however they want. For more references, please see my Pibo tag.
Hi there! Do you know the story (if there is any) behind those pink photos with the woman and the man that turns into a koi fish? I feel like its based off of something but I could be wrong. I really like it though!
Hi! I looked into your inquiry and found out that the set of pictures is an original short story by the artist 呼葱觅蒜. Luckily, the story is not finished so there might be more in the future!
Hello darling! Do you have any suggestions of shops where I could buy hanfus? ^^ I've dreaming of wearing hanfu for the long time now! ps. I absolutely love your posts <3
I apologize for the late reply. For some reason, Tumblr didn’t notify me that I had messages. But, thank you for your question! I have been dreaming of wearing a hanfu for a long time too! Hopefully, I will get a chance in the near future.
There is a large selection of hanfus to choose from on Aliexpress, both traditional and modern with many different colors and designs. Taobao is also a great site to buy hanfus. The Toronto Guqin Society has a list of approved hanfu ateliers. On their site, you will find links to businesses selling hanfus and hanfu accessories. I checked a few of them out and I’m already in love!
Hi, I was wondering if you perhaps knew what the pretty round fans are called that the girls in a lot of these photos have? They're so pretty!
Hi, thanks for the question!
Those pretty round fans are called “tuanshan/团扇”. Please check out my “tuanshan” tag for information and photos. In particular, Mingsonjia has a really informative post on tuanshan here.
Also known as the “rigid fan” or “fixed fan”, the tuanshan is made of cloth (usually silk) stretched over a frame, or of woven bamboo threads. The cloth is often painted or embroidered with natural imagery: flowers, birds, butterflies, scenery, etc. The handle can be long or short.
Tuanshan are usually round (they were originally shaped to resemble the moon), but they come in many different shapes.
(Note: all tuanshan shown here are from 霜天晓角李晶.) Hope this helps!
Hiya! What would guzhuang for doctors have looked like? Though I imagine female medics were uncommon, were there any gender differences in their uniform?
While there is an abundance of information about ancient Chinese medicine (since it is still being practiced today), there is, surprisingly, little about doctors. But, I’m always up for a challenge and learning more about history.
For the most part, doctors in ancient times did not have a “uniform,” but they were expected to dress semi-formally, if not formally, because of their status as learned men. Semi-formal wear includes a chang (裳), a pleated skirt; a bixi (蔽膝), a long, front cloth panel attached from the waist belt; a zhaoshan (罩衫), a long open fronted coat; and sometimes a guan (冠), a hat, with their hair tied up in a top not.
with kimonos, i've heard that girls with curvier bodies have to wear padding underneath to keep the silhouette. does something similar apply when wearing hanfu?
Hi, thanks for the question!
No – unlike kimono, when wearing hanfu, there is no requirement for girls with curvier bodies to wear padding underneath to keep the silhouette. This is because hanfu and kimono have different desired silhouettes.
The ideal kimono silhouette is cylindrical/tubular, with completely straight lines. Hence, curves are flattened and smoothed out using padding:
Hanfu silhouettes, on the other hand, display curves to some degree. When it came to the female body, the ancient Chinese didn’t care much for the bust or butt, but a slim waist was an object of great admiration. Many ancient poems and legends have linked attractiveness with a thin waist. For example, a legend dating to more than 2,000 years ago says that the King of Chu loved narrow waists so much, it led to palace ladies starving themselves. The beauty icon of the Han dynasty, Empress Fei-yen, was notorious for her tiny waist – she was so slim that she could “dance on a palm”. Slim waists were called “willow waists/柳腰 (liu yao)”, with “willow” being a metaphor for a narrow waist and slender body. This ideal willowy silhouette is depicted in many traditional Chinese paintings of beautiful women:
Hanfu emphasizes this ideal silhouette, due to how it is usually tied at the waist with a thin sash:
An exception to the preference for willowy figures occurred during the Tang dynasty, when voluptuous bodies and ample curves were admired.
In addition, hanfu is idealized for its “flowiness”, and is often worn while dancing – which would be very difficult to do with extra padding underneath:
For more comparisons between hanfu and kimono, please see my kimono tag.