Traditional Chinese Clothing | 1 of 2

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"Hanfu" Refers to the historical dress of the Han people. Learn about the iconic Qipao, Zhongshan, & Tang Suit. 

Traditional Chinese Clothing


Hanfu, 'Han clothes', are a traditional type of Chinese clothing dating back three millennia. They served as the characteristic clothing for the Han ethnic group for until their outlaw at the start of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). 

The term "Hanfu" was created in recent years by Internet users to describe the clothing during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). However, it also refers to the historical dress of the Han people for all of history before the Qing Dynasty, when the Manchus reigned.

Zhongshan Suit 

The Zhongshan suit was designed by Sun Zhongshan (or Sun Yat-sen). It combines the Western-style suit with Chinese clothing and has become extremely popular among the Chinese people since its inception during The Republic of China (1911-1949). It features four pockets, five large central buttons in the front and three smaller cuff-buttons on either sleeve.

The Zhongshan suit has strong symbolic meanings according to Sun Zhongshan's design concept of the Republic of China. The four pockets represent four virtues (benevolence, loyalty, probity, and shame). The five bigger buttons symbolize the separation of five powers (administration, legislation, jurisdiction, examination, and supervision). The three smaller cuff-buttons on either sleeve represent "The Three People's Principles" (Nationalism, Democracy and the People's Livelihood, as put forward by Sun Yat-sen). The two inverted pen-rack-shaped pocket flaps symbolize flourishing the state with culture rather than with military power. The turndown closed collar represents the meticulous attitude towards managing state affairs, and the one-piece suit represents the unity of China.

Tang Suit

The Tang Suit refers to a type of male Chinese jacket from the Tang Empire 


A Tang suit (or Tangzhuang) has two varieties in Chinese culture which are strikingly different from on another. The first variety refers to the authentic Tang-era clothes evolving from Hanfu, and it features a button-less 'yi' overlapping the right border to the left and is tied with a sash and an ankle-length 'shang', giving a free, easy and elegant impression. The other variety refers to the Manchu male's jacket evolving from Magua of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which is made by a Western-style suit cutting method, featuring a Mandarin collar, a frog (a knob made of intricately knotted strings) and a duijin (a kind of Chinese-style jacket with buttons down the front), and it's also nowadays known as Pseudo-Tangzhuang.


Cheongsam (also known as Qipao) evolved from the Manchu female's changpao (long gown) of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) were a Manchu ethnic people also referred to as the Qi people (the banner people) and thus came the name for the Qipao.

Beijing-Style Versus Shanghai-Style

The modern Qipao has two sharply different designs and colors owing to historical reasons, fully reflecting the artistic and cultural differences between North China and South China.

The Beijing-style Qipao is characterized by red-tapism, which appears reserved and concise while the Shanghai style incorporates the western style cutting method making it more fashionable, flexible and has a strong commercial feeling.

Popularity of Qipao

The Cheongsam, commonly referred to as the Qipao has been continuously developed through out the forming of the Republic of China until now. It first came to fashion in Shanghai and has since prevailed among women all over the world. The reason for its popularity is that it's not only suitable for the old and the young to wear throughout the year, but it also fully shows the beautiful posture and curves, giving an elegant and graceful impression.

In the second part of this series, we will go into detail of the development of Traditional Chinese Clothing through past dynasties.

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