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Hanfu reflects search for cultural roots


Source: China Daily    Published: 2019-5-7

Editor's Note: People are often seen posing in hanfu to take photographs at scenic spots in China. The term hanfu was coined by internet users recently to describe the clothing of Han people in ancient China before Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Three experts share their views on the new trend with China Daily's Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

Clothing connects people to their cultural roots

With society attaching greater importance to traditional culture, hanfu has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many Chinese people, including those who used to be skeptical of or were generally alienated from Chinese tradition, today regard hanfu as a way to reconnect with tradition.

The popularity of hanfu reflects the diversity of Chinese culture. So hanfu supporters should not be criticized - especially because everyone has the right to choose his or her clothing and lifestyle, and most hanfu enthusiasts wear the traditional dress only on special occasions such as traditional festivals.

Nevertheless, hanfu's popularity should grow naturally, and people should neither be encouraged nor discouraged to wear it.

Japanese students are often seen wearing kimono at their graduation ceremonies, which reflects their self-confidence. Similarly, Chinese people can wear hanfu to symbolize their self-confidence and love for their country.

Zhu Dake, a professor at the School of Humanities, Tongji University in Shanghai

Traditional clothing helps establish national identity

Unlike people in some East Asian countries who have agreed on their traditional national dress, such as kimono for Japanese and hanbok for Koreans, most Chinese people are unclear about their traditional attire.

With the fast-paced economic growth and social development, and growing calls for reviving traditional Chinese culture in recent years, an increasing number of Chinese people are rediscovering the charms of traditional culture and many of them have taken a liking for hanfu, as it helps them establish their cultural identity.

In particular, during some traditional festivals or special occasions such as the commencement ceremony, a growing number of people are choosing to dress in traditional attire such as hanfu rather than putting on Western-style suits.

Although social reform and development led to the phasing out of many traditional dresses, some people's desire to dress in traditional attire on special occasions should not be criticized.

And though there is no consensus on the use of hanfu, it's good to see people exploring traditional Chinese attire, because it not only adds value to culture but also helps integrate traditional culture into modern lifestyle.

Moreover, by encouraging more people to wear hanfu, we can also promote other traditional dresses such as tangzhuang or cheongsam, and inject more vitality into society.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese literature at Peking University, and  senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University

The traditional dress has always been around

After chasing Western fashion, it's natural that Chinese people are returning to traditional clothing in search of cultural identity. Therefore, people's passion for hanfu actually reflects their search for cultural roots, rather than a temporary fad.

Besides, it should be made clear that this is not "the revival of hanfu", because the traditional dress has always been around. And a person has the freedom to choose to wear hanfu just as he or she has the freedom to choose what to eat.

But some people say hanfu is probably unsuitable for daily use. Such people should realize that no one will wear hanfu today while cooking or taking a bus or the metro to work. People will wear them only on special occasions.

During 5,000 years of Chinese history and culture, traditional clothes evolved from one dynasty to another. Hence, one cannot say for sure that hanfu is the best attire among all Chinese traditional dresses. But for the benefit of those who want to wear hanfu, the authorities should organize special classes in schools, which in turn could deepen Chinese people's love for traditional Chinese culture.

Zhang Bo, a lecturer at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology

Key Words: Hanfu   culture   identity   Zhang Yiwu   

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