The chinese queue

Chinese “Queue” Braid, hair, emperor puyi

. via refinery29

The chinese queue braid was worn exclusively by male manchus during the qing dynasty–china’s last imperial dynasty. Later it was enforced on the han chinese; men who disobeyed faced execution on count of treason.

No matter his status or age, the chinese man wore a queue, spanning much of four centuries. Disillusioned in the sino-japanese war of 1895, some still continued to wear it until the qing dynasty fell. Many stopped when the last emperor, puyi, cut off his own in 1922.

Where hair is used to express power, status, superiority in femininity (or masculinty), and prideful identity to a tribe, the chinese queue braid as a tool of conquest on such a mass scale is unusual. It marks submission and repression. By 1911, cutting it off was integral to political revolution.

There’s a good article on the end of the queue by michael r. godley, in the journal east asian history.

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