Special Characteristics of Hakka Costume

Chinese dress had its own distinctness by the time of the Han Dynasty. Despite the fact that they experienced a series of

mass war-induced migrations, Hakka clothing has changed very little over the years. It is still “classical” and “unadorned” in design. The industrious, conservative, and frugal Hakka character is clearly revealed in their costume, because clothing reflects character.

Chinese garb had already developed a distinct form by the Han Dynasty. Chinese dress

has undergone a great deal of change as a result of a series of breakups and reunions of their nation as well as invasions by foreign tribes, but basic Chinese dress still consists of the shan (an unlined upper garment) and the pao for the upper body and pants or a long pao for the lower half of the body. Hakka clothing is the same. Despite the fact that the Hakka were displaced by war several times, their clothing was still very traditional. Because of their conservative and frugal character, major feature of their dress is simplicity.

Confucius once said, ““. Fastening upper garments on the left side was taboo in Chinese dress, so most upper garments were fastened on the right. The fasteners were not located in the middle; rather they were located to the right of and away from the collar and downward. This design is respectfully referred to by the Hakkas as “dajin” (big or great collar).

You can see the ethnic culture of a people through the clothes and adornments they wear. When we look at Hakka dress, we see that they are frugal, unaffected, hard working, and tenacious. Clothing is no longer simply used for warmth, rather it is more an expression of culture and character. Culture can be said to be a word that represents the totality of the blocks of daily life and clothing represents life.

Hakka Blue Shan

Distinct from the shan and skirt of Minnan women, the upper garment and pants worn by Hakka women is known as “blue shan” or “long shan”. Hakka women are not divided into upper and lower classes and have to help their families earn a livelihood, often even working in the fields. Consequently, Hakka women all wore pants for their convenience and practicality.

By wearing the traditional dajin shan (upper garment with a big collar), the Hakka show their respect for tradition on the one hand, while concealing the shape of the breasts and preventing their accidental exposure while working, which was very important for the conservative Hakka women. From this, we can see the reserved and conservative character and fierce pride of the Hakka.

Labor has had a profound influence on the clothing of Hakka women. For instance, the bamboo hat, called a “cool hat”, worn by young female tea harvesters. Wrapped in blue cloth, it keeps strong sunlight off the face, while allowing air in. Women wear the same kind of pants with wide pant legs as men when to work in the field. It is obvious by the work clothes that the Hakka women wear that they are important producers. They are frugal, plain, and practical. They do housework and work in the fields like men. As a result, they are persevering and unassuming.

For cloth, they choose fabric that is easy to clean and does not wear out easily. Most Hakka women wear the dajinshan (big collar shan) with the very long sleeves folded back and pinned down with safety pins. This forms pockets where they can carry things. This is typical of the practical no-nonsense manner of the Hakka women.

taken from http://edu.ocac.gov.tw/lang/hakka/english/c/c.htm

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