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Qing dynasty pigtail

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#1 Guest_ignorant_fool_*

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 08:55 AM

currently now, i am watching the historical drama of the qianlong reign "qian long wang chao". i have finished watching yongzhen reign "yong zhen wang chao" sometime ago. both are made by china makers. the props, costumes and settings, are authentic looking. the story of both serials, i think are fictional (qianlong is fictional, yongzhen i forgot) but with some references to historical characters and events.

while watching halfway on the qianlong reign serial, it occurred to me about the pigtails. pigtail is the symbol of qing dynasty. any chinese without pigtail can be severely punished by death. rebels cut their pigtails to show defiance.

A thought occured to me, with the custom of pigtail, the qing dynasty will not last long or fare poorly in the long run. Of course, the history has stated so and i am not trying be "si hou zhugeliang" or trying to be clever after the results are out.

What it seems to me is that pigtail is impractical. I would think maintenance of pigtail is not easy. It is not easy to sleep with pigtail. It is not easy to wash. Time is wasted in unbraiding and braiding. I just thought it is impractical practice that is forced upon the whole male population in china. If such impracticality is to be enforced for generations, i would think there are many other impracticalities left unchanged without revision and improvement. This would make the dynasty inflexible and unable to adjust to the new times, new technologies and new challenges ahead.

I never had such a long pigtail before, so i would not know of the benefits. Though i would guess among the pros with pigtail, would be less worry about receding hairline and choosing hairstyle or outdated hairstyle.

does anybody has knowledge as of how the pigtail come about or its importance in the culture of machurians and china?

#2 astralis


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Posted 23 September 2004 - 10:42 AM

it was a manchu custom which the manchus forced upon the han population as a symbol of their dominance in china. when i get more time i'll try to find an article about it.

#3 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 11:29 AM

Ironically many Han by the end of the regime wanted to keep the pig tail, and those B****** radical reformists would cut their pigtail by force and stealth.
And also those Chinese in America was proud of the pigtail and viewed it as a symbol of their identity. Thus even though the mainland already got rid of the pigtail, those oversees haven't until much later.

#4 Guest_ignorant_fool_*

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 12:11 PM

thanks for the replies. i was wondering on these points.

- i agree with astralis, it is partly due to dominance.
- enforcing pigtails on everybody maybe part of attempt to dilute the culture previous ming dynasty. because cultural identity plays a significant part in human identity which could lead to nationalism. for example, imagine only machurians have pigtails as opposed to the majority hans in their old appearance. rebellion would not be far-fetched.
- discrimination of pigtails and non-pigtails can be eliminated.
- it will also create a new national identity that chinese is pigtail, pigtail is chinese. the chinese population would accept or more willing to accept to the emperor and dynasty. therefore, the qing conquerors will not be viewed as foreign conquerors holding on to china (highly undesirable, good reason to rebel, used again and again in history). in this way, qing will be looked as a more "natural" leader as opposed to foreign invasion. so that qing can last longer.
- thats i think as mentioned by warhead's example, pigtails are viewed as distinct chinese identity even though it is imported by machurians. but i think also being the minority overseas, it plays a part in making overseas trying harder to keep their identity e.g pigtails. they want to feel chinese, viewed as chinese, identified as chinese and identify other chinese.ie not to lose roots. these feelings are stronger when overseas. this can be seen presently, overseas chinese in southeast asia tends to follow more strictly to rituals and symbolism than mainland chinese. mainland chinese tend to cut down or find them obsolete (may also be contributed by cultural revolution).
- but of course there are many other factors but i just thought these factors would contribute.
- these are just my thoughts. i would like to ask if anybody knew the significance/meaning of pigtail in machurian society that is before the start of china invasion?

#5 Gweilo


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Posted 23 September 2004 - 12:11 PM

Just to add some extra trivia - the American mercenary general Frederick Townsend Ward (whose photo is my avatar) fought for the Qings and was granted Chinese citizenship and Mandarin status. In spite of this, he refused imperial commands to dress as a Mandarin and begin to wear his hair in a queue (pigtail). This was a source of some friction between him and his Chinese superiors, but it was conveniently overlooked because he was so successful in the field against the Taipings.

Upon his death in 1862, Ward was buried in his mandarin robes and cap - but his hair was not braided into a queue!
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#6 Guest_ignorant_fool_*

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Posted 23 September 2004 - 01:04 PM

interesting trivia, did not know that there is an american mercenary general. i knew a tiny bit about taiping rebellion but did not know about other foreigners involved. the commander to quell the rebellion was a han chinese named zeng guofan (i think, who is also li hongzhang's mentor).

another tiny trivia, i was told that lu xun's literary work "Ah Q zhen zhuan", roughly translated story about ah Q. The "Q" stands for chinese people. The line below the "O" is the pigtail. It was interesting to me when i heard it. I have never read the literary work, so i dun know. I only know a tiny bit about the character. Maybe worried that my command of chinese is not up such a task.

#7 astralis


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Posted 26 September 2004 - 12:37 PM

ignorant fool,

before the manchurian invasions pigtails were often worn by bandits and by barbarians (like the manchus :lol: ). when the early manchu tried to enforce the pigtail law, they found a huge uprising on their hands from chinese intellectuals whom believed that long flowing hair was a symbol of civilization. they partially rescinded the law to have only those who worked for the qing gov't were forced to wear it, but after they got stronger they put the whole law back into the books. this time the rebellion was crushed, with a popular saying going: "keep your hair, lose your head; lose your hair, keep your head."

#8 snowybeagle


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Posted 27 September 2004 - 01:46 AM

I recalled a newspaper article mentioning that it was actually a Han collaborator during the early years of Manchu's conquest that proposed universal hair code for the Chinese males.

The Manchus invasion of China would not have been successful without collaboration of some Ming generals who were captured and turned or surrendered, such as Hong Cheng Chou. These early turned-generals adopted the Manchu dress code as well as hair code for themselves, I suspect mainly to assure their new masters they would be loyal and not double back.

When the Manchus successfully conquered China, they actually had no plans to enforce the hair code on the Hans. The Ming generals who had turned were the ones who found themselves reviled by their fellow Hans - their shaved heads and pigtails were clear signs of their voluntary submissions. Frustrated at being mocked for his shaved head and pigtail, one ex-Ming general submitted a proposal to the Qing Imperial Court for universal hair code.

One group exempted from the code appeared to be Taoist priests.

#9 Guest_ignorant_fool_*

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 04:22 AM

thanks guys. is pigtail for manchurian just a simple custom or there is more meaning to such a practice?

#10 General_Zhaoyun


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Posted 27 September 2004 - 11:05 PM

I believe it's a manchu custom.. and by Qing's law, anyone found not having a pigtail will be punishable by death.
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#11 janz


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Posted 30 September 2004 - 02:04 AM

actually, the pig tails people saw from tv programs were mid to late qing style already. for the earlier style, except the pigtail no more hair at back.
灭六国者, 六国也, 非秦国也。族秦者,秦也,非天下也。

roughtly translated...

the six states destroyed the six states, not qin.
qin ruled qin, not the whole country.

#12 MengTzu


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Posted 30 September 2004 - 02:18 AM

Hey all,

No offense to any Manchurian, but the pigtail irks me. I rather prefer the more traditional Confucian (or is it Confucian?) hair style of tying up the hair into a bun. The pigtail wouldn't be so bad if one doesn't have to shave the hair in the front part of the head. An interesting story I heard about the pigtail is that it symbolizes the horse tails: the Manchurians used the horses to take over China (Ma Shang De Tian Xia,) and the pigtail symbolizes the loyalty and power of the horses. The long sleeves of the mandarins probably symbolize the hooves (although it might be a borrowing from Confucian robe of having humongous sleeves. But then the Confucian robe seems wider and the Qing mandarin robe seems long but not wide, so I don't know.) Notice the way the mandarins pay homage to the emperors: they unroll their sleeves, kow tow, and put their hands on the ground, probably imitating horses. Well, it's all just speculation I think.




#13 yehzhaofeng


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Posted 30 September 2004 - 02:48 PM

yeah, how ironic. However, the pigtail were kept by Chinese in foreign countries even after the Qing.



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#14 Guest_GuanYu_*

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 09:44 PM

Why would anyone like the pigtail? I find it extremely hideous and not to mention the whole symbol of the pigtail was meant for Han Chinese humiliation, it was a symbol of Manchu dominance during the Qing. How is that possibly a good thing for those who think that it is?

#15 astralis


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Posted 01 October 2004 - 01:08 AM

well, 250+ years of rule tends to make people forget the original object of humilation.

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