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Reviving Han style, but not without debate

By Tian Ye (Xinhua)

14:11, October 18, 2012

BEIJING, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Outfitted in a tall black hat and floor-length robe with loose sleeves, 27-year-old Li Baichuan could be mistaken for his Han ancestors who lived over centuries ago if it weren't for his modern glasses and cellphone.

Although his traditional outfit provokes reactions and attracts attention from passersby, Li, and thousands of hobbyists like him, believe it is important to revive the traditions and lifestyle of their Han ancestors. Donning Hanfu, a set of traditional Han clothing composed of several layers -- most notably, a ground-sweeping robe -- is their most overt attempt at bringing Han style back.

Nowadays, Hanfu is usually only worn by hobbyists or participants in cultural exercises, but some religious figures, like Taoists and Buddhist monks, wear the garments every day.

A traditional Hanfu is a set consisting of two or three layers. A light T-shirt and shorts set is worn under a long, wide-sleeved robe, and a typical set may also include a hat, sashes worn to secure the robe and a jacket that stays open at the front.

Li, who makes all the traditional Han clothing items by hand and sells them, wears a robe that follows the ancient pattern, with the left side of the robe diagonally crossed over the right. He chose red cuff and collar accents to set off his black robe.

To promote the use of Hanfu, Li taught himself how to tailor the traditional garments, and he hopes to make the clothes shorter and more convenient for people to wear today.

Li has sold nine hanfu sets in the past two weeks.

"Young customers are more individualistic, and they willfully change patterns and match colors," he said.

Even Li wears modern clothes like button-down shirts and sweaters beneath his Hanfu robe, allowing the collars of his contemporary wardrobe to poke out from under the traditional robe.

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