Sinology Sunday: February 28, 2016

Speculation at Xiongnu noble during the late Western Han dynasty.

All hail the mighty Weibo for when you asketh, Weibo shall delivereth.  As we finished our tour through Chinese history through available pictures in the beginning of the year, we asked if anybody had any preferences or requests on what they would like to see.  anon expressed an interest in pre-qing dynasty clothes while kumaxell and heisui expressed an interest in less well-known regimes/minority groups.

A gentle warning that some of the men in the pictures below may be topless to demonstrate how the clothes fit together and other details.  More pictures and information below the cut.

As you can imagine, though we may want to be able to get a bigger picture of these lesser known peoples and dynasties, this may pose a challenge since groups may tend to favor more well-known dynasties before branching out to other periods but some groups that seem more focused on history and archaeology as opposed to the pretty have started to come up with some stuff.

Speculation at Xiongnu noble during the late Western Han dynasty.

This week, we explore Xiongnu clothing, which runs around the time of the late Western Han dynasty.  Also, it correlates nicely with Princess Jieyou.  As you may have noticed in dramas, these people are often portrayed as having a culture that seems to be inspired by the Middle East and if you really think about it, this may not make the most sense since it brings up the question of if the culture of the Middle East had developed to that extent yet and the probable reality of “nomadic” life in this time period.

Speculation at Xiongnu aristocrat during the late Western Han dynasty.

Also, since descriptions that remain of these people seems to imply they are nomadic, this probably also poses a problem when it comes to archaeology, locating archaeological sites, and preservation of artifacts.  This does not even start to take into account the diversity that seems to have prevailed among this confederation.  Therefore, this reconstruction from Hu Jingming‘s (琥璟明) weibo can probably only be described as speculative based on the evidence we have thus far but it does provide some insight (and probably destroys some romanticisms we have developed from dramas).

Speculation at Xiongnu aristocrat during the late Western Han dynasty.

Every now and again, people on weibo post pictures in long strips that I have been too lazy to find a way to save and re-post.  More details on Xiongnu clothing and how they fit together on the strip here.

Speculation at Xiongnu aristocrat during the late Western Han dynasty.

Hanfu groups seem to work together so I apologize ahead of time in case there are any repeats.  Also, please understand that sorting Hanfu by era can be hard due to similar styles carrying over into different eras, lack of historical evidence or knowledge, and various other factors.

The following are some links that may help you get some background information.  Please let us know in the comment section if there are any other sites you may be able to recommend for more pictures.

Chinese History Timeline

General Chinese Clothing Timeline

Hanfu: General Information, Hanfu List

Make-up: Lips, Eyebrows

Speculation at common Xiongnu garb.

Speculation at common Xiongnu garb.

Speculation at common Xiongnu garb.

Speculation at common Xiongnu garb.

Speculation at common Xiongnu garb.

Speculation at common Xiongnu garb.


3 thoughts on “Sinology Sunday: February 28, 2016

  1. I watched two episodes of Princess Jieyou (love the show so far) and was shocked by how fancy they dressed. I always thought Xiongnu would be like the people in your post. Down to earth, simple, convenient due to their nomadic life style. They wouldn’t have time to do clothing embellishments because they were constantly hunting and looking for water.

    • The idea that the Xiongnu were simple nomads (to the point of being barbaric, uncultured, or crude) is a misconception. Actually, the Xiongnu empire was NOT less advanced than the Han empire, and it was certainly not a power inferior to Han. Ordinary Han people had ordinary clothes; while ordinary Xiongnu would have had plainer clothes, it’s reasonable to believe that the noble Xiongnnu would have had beautiful clothing as well. There’s just not as much documentation.

      • Sorry about getting back so late. I tried to mention a bit about the lack of evidence and ambiguity about these peoples in general since I feel like that is the main problem. Anything we come up with at this point is probably at best mostly speculative due to a lack of abundance of evidence (like repeated finds of similar artifacts from different sites or stuff like that). If I remember correctly, even the artifacts that these reconstructions were based off of were found somewhere around Xinjiang… which may not be the most reflective of “Xiongnu”…

        Also, you have to remember that there was a point in history during the early Han dynasty where the Xiongnu were more powerful and a legitimate threat to the Western Han dynasty. Based on this, we can speculate that power=wealth=more adornments in clothing but again… it seems like we lack a lot of evidence in between what has been found so far and modern country borders and other interests… and we really lack evidence on how all this would have fit together in detail…

        We really don’t seem to have much pointing either way. They could have dressed everybody in bikinis and birthday hats for all we care and we still probably wouldn’t be much farther than saying it seems really out of line with what little we have and what we can infer from the conditions in the area…

        …at least this is the extent to my knowledge. If anybody can bring up more evidence to help clarify, it would be greatly appreciated!!

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