Hanfu cultural festival in Xitang ancient town attracts 40,000 enthusiasts
Xitang, ascenic yet rather quiet ancient town in East China’s Zhejiang Province, livened up over the weekend as thousands of visitors dressed up in hanfu, the traditional costume of Han Chinese people, descended on its cobble-stone streets. Han is the largest ethnic group in China, witha population of over 1.2 billion at present. Its clothing dates back to 2000 BC and boasts 4,000 years of history. After Manchu rulers established the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) in 1644, hanfu was forbidden and gradually disappeared from public life.
Recently, however, this timehonored clothing has been making a comeback in China, with an increasing number of people studying its history and even wearing it in their daily life. Spurring this renewed love affair with
hanfu is the annual Hanfu Cultural Festival in Xitang, one of China’s biggest hanfu-themed events since 2013.
“This year, more than 15,000 people signed up for the four-day festival in advance,” introduced Luo Hui, a representative of event organizer Fang Wenshan Cultural Media Ltd. “We found that the actual number of participants was much higher, approximately 40,000 in total.”
From Saturday to Tuesday, several traditional cultural performances and activities were held in the ancient town, including an old Chinesestyle wedding ceremony, an archery competition, hanfu catwalk shows, traditional handicraft workshops and even a blind-date event just for single
hanfu lovers. It’s worth mentioning that, among all the hanfu wearers in Xitang over the weekend, an overwhelming majority were under 30 years of age. Unlike the now-clichéd Western brand clothing that so many older urban Chinese
obsess over, many Chinese millennials are becoming more proud of their own traditional culture.
Li Xiang is a young hanfu enthusiast who participated in Xitang’s festival
this year. The 27-year-old is attracted by its wide sleeves and layered loose
robes. “Hanfu is beautiful in design and comfortable to wear,” he told the
Global Times. “It makes wearers look dignified and elegant.”
It was the first time that Li participated in this festival, taking him about three hours to travel from his home in
u, the capital city of Zhejiang. “I came to meet and make friends with other hanfu lovers,” he said. “Here, I never feel alone.”
Apart from newcomers like Li, there were also many veteran participants, such as Sinan (pseudonym) from
neighboring Jiangsu Province. “I’ve come here for three consecutive years,” she told the Global Times.
In 2014, Sinan, the former designer quit her job to start an online store that sells her self-made hanfu. “It was quite difficult at the beginning, even my parents didn’t support me,” she
recalled. In the eyes of Sinan’s family, it was unwise to give up a stable job, especially to pursue an outdated clothing line. Over the past three years, however,
Sinan’s store has grown to become one of the most popular online hanfu shops. The store’s Weibo account has 72,000 followers. “The market is growing so fast in recent years,” she told the Global Times. “I’m glad to see more people become interested in hanfu.”
Some enthusiasts are passing on their love and passion to the next generation. Saturday afternoon in Xitang, a 3-year-old girl dressed up in red hanfu attracted the attention (and photos) of many passersby. The girl, nicknamed Xiangxiang, was one of the youngest participants of the festival.
“I myself love hanfu very much and like to share its beauty with my family,” said Xiangxiang’s young mother, 25-year-old Wu Yanjun. The family of three all wore eye-catching red hanfu with elaborate embroidery.
“My daughter is too young to learn much about hanfu now, but she still thinks it’s very beautiful,” Wu told the Global Times. “I will teach her more when she grows up, not only some basic knowledge about the clothing itself but also its long history and rich traditional culture.”
Two young women in hanfu style each other’s hair on Saturday.
The annual Hanfu Cultural Festival held in Xitang; Li Xiang (right) with his friends in hanfu; Wu Yanjun (right) with her family in hanfu; Children in hanfu; Demonstration of an old Chinese-style wedding; Sinan in hanfu; People buy handmade Chinese jewelry. A man in hanfu plays guqin (a seven-stringed musical instrument). A man in red hanfu; Event organizer Vincent Fang in hanfu