Information about hanfu & tips for artists who want to draw traditional Chinese clothing

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Information about hanfu & tips for artists who want to draw traditional Chinese clothing

art, painting, drawing, China, history


Information and drawing tips

TLDR version

Please draw cross collars left-over-right like shown here!

Getting this wrong is by far the most common mistake I see

Do your research and find appropriate references!

Learn the differences between 汉服 (hanfu), 古装 (guzhuang), ethnic minorities’ clothing and other types of clothing

Table of contents

Disclaimers 4

What is (and isn’t) hanfu 5 - 12

General information

Layers 14 - 17

Period-specific styles 18 - 28

Shoes 29 - 30

Do’s and don’ts

Collars 31 - 34

Mixing styles 35

Yuanlingpao 36 - 37

Hanfu, kimono, hanbok 38 - 41

Miscellaneous 42

Glossary 44

Sources 45 - 47

Updated on 2022/05/29


The information and advice in this presentation are mostly based on historical practice, but I also want to point out that hanfu is a living fashion that has been gaining a lot of popularity in China and modern hanfu is often very different from historical hanfu, but both are understood to be valid forms of hanfu by most people.

If you’re looking to draw fictional characters in fantasy settings, some of the points made in this presentation might not apply and there is always room for creativity, but I still think it’s important to know where the clothing comes from, what it’s originally like and how you might choose to modify it.

There are also many people who might not care about accuracy, and I agree that it doesn’t always matter, but I hope this will still be informative and helpful!

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Hanfu (汉服) is defined as the traditional ethnic clothing of the Han Chinese people (the ethnic majority in China)

Another commonly used term, huafu (华服), includes the clothing of all ethnic groups in China

Of course other groups such as the Manchu people, the Mongolian people, the Hmong people, etc. all also have their own ethnic clothing and all deserve their own appreciation, but I will only focus on hanfu in this presentation

Most Qing dynasty clothing is not counted as hanfu as it’s heavily influenced by Manchu clothing

Qipao/cheongsam is also not hanfu as it’s derived from Qing/Manchu (and in some cases also Western) clothing

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Some examples:

← Ming-style clothing (this is hanfu)

→ Qing-style clothing

(this is not hanfu)

(these are TV drama costumes)

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Some examples:

← Song-style clothing (this is hanfu)

→ Mongolian deel (this is not hanfu)

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Some examples:

← Ming-style clothing (this is hanfu)

→ Manchu clothing (this is not hanfu)

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Some examples:

← Ming-style clothing (this is hanfu)

→ Qing-style tangzhuang

(this is not hanfu)

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Some examples:

← modernized hanfu (this is hanfu)

→ modern qipao/cheongsam (this is not hanfu)

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Another important term to know is guzhuang (古装).

This is essentially the term for Chinese fantasy clothing

Guzhuang is often based on hanfu or Qing clothing, but it takes a lot of creative liberties and incorporates outside influences (for example modern fabrics)

Guzhuang is most commonly seen in Chinese fantasy media (dramas, donghua, manhua, video games, etc.)

Guzhuang is sometimes seen as tacky by some people. Everyone has their own taste and opinions, but it’s worth keeping in mind

Examples on the next slide

What is (and isn’t) hanfu

Some examples of guzhuang (from TV dramas)

Information about


General information: Layers

Hanfu usually consists of 3 basic layers:

内衣 (neiyi): inner clothing

中依 (zhongyi): middle clothing

外衣 (waiyi): outer clothing

However, waiyi can consist of even more layers in itself (such as multiple tops, coats, etc.)

General information: Layers

内衣 (neiyi): inner clothing

Neiyi covers the private parts and usually the chest as well

It usually isn’t visible in a complete ensemble (a notable exception is women’s waist-high ruqun where the top is sometimes visible)

General information: Layers

中依 (zhongyi): middle clothing

Zhongyi can come in different styles, but most often it consists of a cross-collared top and either trousers or a skirt

It’s usually white and plain

It doubles as sleepwear

The collar is almost always visible under the waiyi

General information: Layers

外衣 (waiyi): outer clothing

The main garments

The style of waiyi can vary greatly by time period

General information: Period-specific styles

A rough (and incomplete!) timeline of Chinese history for reference

(periods that are of special interest for hanfu are highlighted)




Neolithic (8500 - 2070 BCE)

Xia (2070 - 1600 BCE)

Shang (1600 - 1046 BCE)

Zhou (1046 - 256 BCE)

Qin (221 - 207 BCE)

Han (202 BCE - 220 CE)

Three Kingdoms (220 - 280)

Jin (266 - 420)

Sui (581 - 618)

Tang (618 - 907)

Song (960 - 1279)

Yuan (1271 - 1368)

Ming (1368 - 1644)

Qing (1636 - 1912)

Republic of China

(1912 - 1949)

People's Republic of China (1949 - present)

General information: Period-specific styles

Han dynasty (202 BCE - 220 CE)

Iconic for representing some of the oldest surviving records of hanfu (though hanfu dates back a lot further)

Common styles of this period were ruqun (襦裙), a cross-collared top and skirt, and quju (曲裾), also known as curved-hem robe, a one-piece garment

Pictures of historically accurate Han dynasty hanfu on the next slide

General information: Period-specific styles

Han dynasty

General information: Period-specific styles

Tang dynasty (618 - 907)

Sometimes called the golden age of Chinese culture

The mid to late Tang dynasty is now famous for its beauty ideal of voluptuous women

Common styles were chest-high ruqun and yuanlingpao (圆领袍), known as round-collared robe

Pictures of historically accurate Tang dynasty hanfu on the next slide

General information: Period-specific styles

Tang dynasty

General information: Period-specific styles

Song dynasty (960 - 1279)

Most women’s clothing became more restrained and simple compared to the Tang dynasty

This might have been the first time that earrings started to be worn by Han women (it was considered immoral before)

Common styles were waist-high ruqun and yuanlingpao

Pictures of historically accurate Song dynasty hanfu on the next slide

General information: Period-specific styles

Song dynasty

General information: Period-specific styles

Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)

Over the course of the Ming dynasty, a big shift occurred in hanfu: ruqun was largely replaced by aoqun and daopao

This was also the first time that standing collars (竖领) were used

Aoqun (袄裙) consists of long top that is worn untucked and a skirt that, in the later period, is often pleated

Pictures of historically accurate Ming dynasty hanfu on the next slide

General information: Period-specific styles

Ming dynasty

General information: Period-specific styles


I’ve heard the phrase “simple Han, luxurious Tang, delicate Song, elegant Ming” and I think that sums it up pretty well

The other dynasties (like Jin and Sui) have interesting styles as well, but they haven’t received nearly as much attention as those four

General information: Period-specific styles

Some important takeaways

No earrings (for Han women) before the Song dynasty

No standing collars before the Ming dynasty

Pibo (披帛), flowy silk shawls, are iconic for the Tang dynasty

This probably goes without saying, but also no cut hair (i.e. no bangs, no shaving, etc.) until the Qing dynasty (exceptions: young children, Buddhist monks, non-Han people, criminals and social outcasts)

General information: Shoes

Hanfu shoes were historically made of fabric or leather

They often turn upwards at the end which serves the purpose of holding up the hem of the robes so that the wearer won’t trip

Traditional hanfu shoes

never have heels. The soles

are flat

Shoes are often worn with

loose-fitting socks like this →

General information: Shoes

Some types of shoes

Fangxi (方舄), Song to Ming-style men's shoes

Xue (靴), boots mostly worn for riding horses, worn since at least the Han dynasty

Gongxie (弓鞋), Song to Ming-style casual shoes

Do’s and don’ts: Collars


always draw cross collars left-over-right


draw them right-over-left

Do’s and don’ts: Collars

Left-over-right goes for all cross collars (including zhongyi) in all styles of hanfu!

The reason is that the reverse (right-over-left) is usually how deceased people are dressed (and there are also many practical reasons)

The name of this rule is 交领右衽 (jiaoling youren)

Some other cultures (like a lot of nomadic groups in the north) have used right-over-left as their norm

Do’s and don’ts: Collars


choose Ming-style collars if you want to draw standing collars in hanfu


choose Qing-style or modern shirt collars if you’re trying to draw hanfu

Pictures on the next slide

Do’s and don’ts: Collars

Hanfu collars (Ming-style)

Not hanfu collars

Do’s and don’ts: Mixing styles


stick to one style or only combine different styles when it’s appropriate

e.g.: a fictional character who is immortal could wear a combination of the different styles they’ve worn throughout their lifetime


mix styles randomly when it isn’t appropriate (or, if you choose to do it intentionally, you should at least know what you’re doing)

e.g.: a character living in very ancient times should not be wearing aoqun

Do’s and don’ts: Yuanlingpao


draw the flap and the button on yuanlingpao


forget it! If there was no flap and button, it’d be impossible (or very difficult) to put on and take off yuanlingpao

Pictures on the next slide

Do’s and don’ts: Yuanlingpao

Can also be worn unbuttoned like this

This “slit” is a side vent. It’s not always visible

This is the flap that is buttoned at the top

Do’s and don’ts: Hanfu, kimono, hanbok


learn the differences between Chinese hanfu, Japanese kimono and Korean hanbok


get them mixed up or blend their different elements together when it isn’t appropriate

Here are two posts you can read that explain a few of

Tags Art, Painting, Drawing, China, History
Type Google Slide
Published 23/04/2024, 21:34:29


PuccaNoodles’ Animation/Art Resource Sheet