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Young influencer portrays exceptional women from history through hanfu

CGTN| Updated: March 7, 2024 L M S

Hanfu, or traditional clothing of the Han ethnicity in China, has gained increasing popularity among the public over the years, thanks to the individuals who consistently wear and promote its beauty and cultural significance. One such individual is 25-year-old Zhang Xiyue, also known as "A Shi," who has amassed 600,000 fans on the internet. Based in Hangzhou, she has been an influential figure in promoting hanfu for the past seven years and was a performer showcasing hanfu at the Spring Festival Gala this year. 


Zhang Xiyue wears clothing from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. /Photo provided by Zhang Xiyue

Zhang's daily routine involves shooting photos and short videos showcasing traditional Chinese clothing and jewelry from ancient times. She is passionate about hanfu, and even though the shoots can last an entire day or even overnight, she never finds them boring.

"I realized that these historical costumes symbolize our ancient way of life and embody the spiritual essence of our ancestors. Costumes, therefore, offer insight into the characteristics of a particular era in society," said Zhang.

Zhang Xiyue gained recognition by creating a series of videos that highlighted the achievements of extraordinary Chinese women throughout history, such as diplomat Gong Peng and astronomer Ye Shuhua. She aims to raise awareness about the stories of these exceptional women from a diverse range of fields and eras to promote the influence of women.


Zhang Xiyue recreates the image of female diplomat Gong Peng in a short video. /Photo provided by Zhang Xiyue

"Leveraging my passion for costumes, I strive to bring these historical figures to life through short videos focusing on costume restoration. In addition, I hope to use this medium to demonstrate the limitless possibilities available to us as women," said Zhang.

"Nian Jin" or "New Year Brocade" presented the elegance of traditional hanfu from various dynasties at this year's Spring Festival Gala. The intricate patterns symbolized a promising new year and facilitated greater comprehension of the authentic nature of traditional hanfu, characterized by classical patterns and traditional fabrics. Zhang was among the models showcasing the beauty of hanfu, playing the role of a young lady and noblewoman from the Southern Song Dynasty.


Zhang Xiyue was a performer at the 2024 Spring Festival Gala, portraying a young lady and noblewoman from the Southern Song Dynasty. /Poster provided by Zhang Xiyue. Photo by Zhang Mingyang

Zhang mentioned that video producers who introduce hanfu face greater challenges compared to producers of other types of content.  

They must do extensive research, including consulting books and historical documents. Not all information can be found in records; sometimes her team has to examine frescoes and pottery figurines to recreate the images as accurately as possible.

Zhang humbly acknowledges that her work in disseminating knowledge about hanfu is still far from complete. And she hopes that more respected scholars will use their extensive expertise to promote the study of hanfu.

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