The Origin of Hanfu Movement of China

What is Hanfu Movement?

August 1, 2020 0 By admin

Hanfu movement is an abbreviation of “Hanfu Culture Revival Movement”, which belongs to an active part of the Chinese Traditional Culture Revival Movement.

Firstly, it takes “the return of Hanfu” as a starting point, and calls for this opportunity to set off a cultural or social movement in a wide range.
Secondly, its main population is young people between the ages of 25 and 35.
Thirdly, its basic place of activity is the Internet, but it has now moved from the virtual world on the Internet to the real world outside the Internet, and has spread in various public places such as universities and parks.
Fourthly, it is the “breakthrough and early stage of national cultural revival”, and its ultimate goal is a “culture revival movement”.

Background of Hanfu Movement

Hanfu, a traditional clothing of the Han nationality in China, is always called traditional chinese dress or Han clothing. Hanfu has been developed and inherited for more than 4,000 years but disappeared in Qing Dynasty. It is different from the clothes of other nationality in China, which represents the connotation of etiquette and customs of China.

On August 29, 1645, the government of Qing Dynasty(the nationality of Manchu) issued an order called “Yifuling” to forbid wearing Hanfu, stipulated that “官民既已剃发,衣冠皆宜遵本朝之制“, which can be roughly translated as “Since Han officials and civilians have shaved their hair, they should also dress in according to the regulations of government”.

After the Han nationality and other fraternal nationalities failed in resistance of Yifuling, Hanfu almost disappeared.Man of Han nationality shaved and braided hair behind their head, wore Manchu’s clothes, but woman of Han nationality still retained the traditional “Shang yi xia chang” system of Hanfu. After the demise of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, Man of Han nationality changed to wear Western-suits and Zhongshan suits, while woman used to wear cheongsam.

However, there is a new trend of resuming the tradition of Hanfu in mainland China. Hanfu has begun to come back to armoire. Some Hanfu revivals set up websites to show Hanfu, ohers discuss designs of Hanfu online. They even suggest that the Ministry of Education uniformly should adopt Hanfu as academic uniforms. People call this phenomenon the “traditional cultural renaissance” in China.

Yifuling of Qing Dynasty
Yifuling of Qing Dynasty

Origin of Hanfu Movement

In 2002, many people tried and worked hard to revive the Hanfu to response to the prevailing belief that Tang suits (manchu style cheongsam and horse gowns) were the clothing of Han people.

On February 14, 2002, a Shanxi netizen posted a post “Lost Civilization – Han National Costume” at the Sina History Forum. With the number of clicks reached over 300,000 in two years, this post was published to many people at home and abroad, which awakened a large number of people to devote themselves to the Hanfu movement. This is the beginning of the modern Hanfu movement.

Wang letian wore Hanfu
Wang Letian wore Hanfu

On November 22, 2003, Mr. Wang Letian, a civilian of China, put on the Hanfu and walked on the street, which was called “Wang Letian Incident”. “Wang Letian Incident” aroused wide attention of people from the entire China to Chinese traditional culture and Han national costumes. The Hanfu worn by Wang Letian is composed of two parts: a Shenyi and a silk coat. Unlike the robe and horse gown, Hanfu has no buttons but tied and secured by laces. Although this hanfu was simple and crude and even a bit out of shape, it was sewn by Wang Letian and his friends.

Despite being ridiculed and puzzled, Wang Letian walked through the crowd calmly and walked on the busiest street in Zhengzhou City. he was more determined to promote Hanfu after “Wang Letian Incident” that he hoped to use his limited strength to influence others. Soon, there were many photos of Wang Letian dressed in Hanfu on the Internet. It was very windy that day, and his hair was a little messy, but elegant and full of ancient Chinese charm. A reporter from Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao, Zhang Congxing, accidentally saw these photos and wrote a report accordingly. This article became the first article to report of Hanfu and attracted widespread attention from domestic and foreign media. As a result, Wang Letian’s behaviour was widely circulated and supported by many people, then Hanfu movement began.

Participant of Hanfu Movement

Hanfu movement is a patriotic culture movement that initiated by the ordinary people. The majority of participants are 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. White-collar class and students are the main force of Hanfu movement. However, in the past few years, 2000s has gradually participated in it, which becoming a new force in the Hanfu movement. To be precise, the Hanfu movement is a culture-revival movement that regardless of age, gender, occupation, and interests. It takes the revival of Han nationality’s traditional costumes as a breakthrough point to influence the masses and further promote traditional culture of China.

Arguement of Hanfu Movement

1. Can Hanfu represent traditional Chinese clothing?


Although the Han nationality clothing is affected by other national costumes, its basic national characteristics have not changed. Hanfu is a huge system that it has its own different clothing system according to various occupations, social classes, ages and occasions. Hanfu changed according to different economic levels, social culture and aesthetic standards in different dynasties, but the strict rules and regulations of how to wear Hanfu have not changed anymore. For example, because of the development of Tang Dynasty that the society was open and outward-looking, so the aesthetics of the wide-sleeved and the Moxiong of women’s dress had changed in the conservative Song Dynasty. However, the men’s round-necked robe inherited from Tang Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, and the shape of the right-lapel collars has not changed fundamentally.


There never has a pure Han national costume in the world. Whether Hanfu can represent the Han nationality should be decided by the majority of the 1.2 billion Han people through appropriate procedures, rather than a minority. In the modern society, strict etiquette and dress regulations are difficult to be accepted, people are more inclined to modern clothes such as T-shirts in their daily life. The Hanfu movement should focus on people’s willingness of wearing Hanfu and respect the people’s choices instead of enforcing them  to respect the choices of Hanfu movement.

2. What is the meaning of Hanfu Movement?


The traditional costumes of all nationalities in the world have been developing for thousand years since ancient times, which represents the culture and tradition of every country. The necessity of the existence of Hanfu cannot be determined by “what can I get if I wear a Hanfu?” Hanfu is the traditional national costume of the Han nationality, and it is the representative of national tradition and national culture. In modern society, people are increasingly aware of the important role tthat raditional culture plays in the harmonious development of society. Hanfu movement is conducive to improving national cohesion and pride. So it is necessary to revive Hanfu in modern times.


Although the disappearance of Hanfu is an abnormal process of extinction, there is no necessary connection between traditional culture and Hanfu. In fact, Hanfu movement not only includes the traditional costume of Hanfu. The restoration of Hanfu can not be tied to the revival of traditional culture, nor can the essential extracts of traditional culture be used to ignore the dregs. If only the restoration of Hanfu is the result of restoring and promoting traditional culture, then the essence of the Hanfu revival movement is deviated.

3. When to wear Hanfu?


Hanfu has broad-sleeved gowns that can be wore for major ceremonies and festivals, as well as tight-sleeved clothing can be wore at home as casual clothing. As a national costume, Hanfu is a huge system that it has its own different clothing system according to various occupations, social classes, ages and occasions. Hanfu movement can completely pursue the goal of wearing Hanfu in daily life rather than wearing it at festivals, weddings or major ceremonies. There has many countries such as Japan, South Korea and Hungary that they wear their national costumes in their daily life,therefore, it can be dressed in Hanfu in our country same as the above countries.


You can wear Hanfu and regular clothes at estivals, weddings or major ceremonies, while wearing casual clothing in free time. In fact,it is inconvenient to wear Hanfu in the busy modern life. And some Hanfu revival supporters resisted the innovation of Hanfu style to adapt to the changes of modern social life, which increased the difficulty of promoting Hanfu. Even Japan, South Korea and Hungary and other countries have not evidenced that people wear their national costumes such sa Kimono and hambok in their daily life for a long time.

Opinion of Chinesehanfu about Hanfu Movement

Chinese Traditional Culture Revival Movement

Hanfu is the most important traditional costume of China, which needs to be inherited and developed. Although the Hanfu movement has its unreasonable aspects, its positive effect is significant and far-reaching. After the reform and opening up, China’s economy and culture developed rapidly that China quickly became a popular tourist country. Therefore, for China, it is important to maintain national characteristics and inherit good cultures from ancient time. Hanfu is the carrier of China’s 5,000-year-old traditional culture, we should treat the Hanfu movement dialectically and inherit the efforts of its predecessors.