Truble Pics + Men's Fashion

Han Fashion—Focus on China [men's fashion]

(Guizhou, China 1986) As you can see by the photo above, when I lived in China many Han Chinese still wore a traditional form of dress, whereas I dressed in what the Han men considered modern Chinese clothing. But, before we get to their clothing, who are the Han?

Most Chinese are descendants of the Han majority, which is actually the largest ethnic group in the world, sometimes referring to itself as “Descendants of the Dragon.”

The name Han comes from the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), which was preceded by the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE). Some southern Han Chinese even call themselves “the people of Tang,” referring to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Nevertheless, most Han Chinese today label themselves “the Hua people” (húarén) or “the Middle Kingdom people” (Zhōnggúorén).

As for dress, almost all Chinese Han men have adopted modern western clothing; but this was not always the case. As a matter of fact, when I was living in the more remote areas of China in the 1980’s, men were just beginning to make the transition from traditional to Western looks.

For decades, the attire for men was what Westerners have come to term the “Mao suit,” which was still being sported by the majority of men in Guizhou, where I was living. Despite the name, however, the Mao suit did not completely originate with Mao Ze Dong.

The original name of the Mao suit is the Zhongshan suit, from Sun Zhongshan or Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the revolutionary leader who pioneered the Republic of China in 1912 by overthrowing the last of the Chinese emperors.

Previously, Sun Yat-sen had worn the clothing of the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China. At that time, men sported the chángshān (‘long shirt’). But due to the unpopularity of the Qing Dynasty with the masses, the “long shirt” was already being combined with Western jackets and the like.

When Sun Yat-sen established the Republic of China, he united elements from both Eastern and Western fashion. He demonstrated Eastern sensibilities in the new suit by placing 4 symmetrical pockets to portray balance and 5 buttons, which later came to symbolize the branches of the new government.

When Sun Yat-sen permitted the Chinese Communist Party to join his Nationalist Party, Chinese communist men adopted the new look as a symbol of their adherence. Later under the leadership of Mao Ze Dong, the suit emerged as symbol of proletarian unity.

Although considered formal attire by some older men and a casual outfit by the so-called peasants, the Mao suit was largely replaced in the 1990’s by Western suits and styles.

Photo top center Copyright Men's Fashion by Mark.
Photo middle left, Sun Yat-sen, by Militaryace, Public Domain at Wikipedia.
Photo bottom, Hurley, Zhang, and Mao, Public Domain at Wikipedia.

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