What is this costume from?
October 17, 2005 12:07 PM   Subscribe

What is that Chinese big-sleeves/baggy-pants costume/outfit/character archetype called?

Examples are Hsien-Ko from Capcom's Darkstalkers games, and Mousse from the Ranma series. Where does that outfit come from, and why does it seem to be associated with martial artists who pull blades out of apparently nowhere? Is there a real historical group of people who do/did this?
posted by wanderingmind to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
A coolie?
posted by chunking express at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2005

The Japanese outfit for martial arts practice is called a Gi.

A coolie is a Chinese worker/labourer. The conical hats are typically identified as Coolie Hats.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:43 PM on October 17, 2005

The examples wanderingmind gave are not wearing gis. At all.
posted by artifarce at 2:38 PM on October 17, 2005

Maybe if wanderingmind could find an image of some sort..
Mousse from Ranma?
posted by agropyron at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2005

Sure thing. Here's Hsien-ko; the freakishly huge claws in place of her hands are not, strictly speaking, part of the outfit. If anything, her design should be taken as an exaggerated version of the costume I'm talking about. Here's one of Mousse showing off his ability to stuff just about anything into those sleeves, and another slightly more sedate one showing off the set of knives that seem more usual for him (and seem to have the same origin as Hsien-Ko's claws; hers are just more stylized).
posted by wanderingmind at 2:51 PM on October 17, 2005

Does it even have a name? (Another example... Ziyi Zhang's dance with the drums from the movie House of Flying Daggers.)
posted by MegoSteve at 5:05 PM on October 17, 2005

I think pien-fu might be the name of the outfit in question. I'm not sure, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:28 PM on October 17, 2005

Those are two completely different styles of outfit. Big sleeves were in a variety of Chinese clothing styles from various dynasties. To my eye, the Hsien-ko style seems a bit like the eunuch uniforms from the Qing dynasty (see here) and the second Mousse image looks like a vaguely Ming dynasty influenced style.
posted by Big Fat Tycoon at 7:34 PM on October 17, 2005

Good call, I asked a male Chinese friend who's into martial arts and he also pointed me to this board discussion about han-fu (also pien-fu, apparently), the wikipedia article about such. I guess a more modern version of this is the male cheongsam, or Da Ma Gua (oh... from the Qing dynasty as Big Fat Tycoon referred).
posted by artifarce at 8:47 PM on October 17, 2005

Also, read down on this page to the part on the Cheongsam in films. That sort of approached the archetype you were referring to. Maybe an archetype that's more recent, but drawing on past martial "fashions"? Using large sleeves for concealment (whether of weapons or one's body) has always been a tool in martial arts. Even the hakama (worn on the lower body) serves the same purpose.

Hopefully these links are what you were looking for.
posted by artifarce at 8:50 PM on October 17, 2005

One fabulous example of this, btw, is in the movie "Iron Monkey". The evil mastermind has a unique and violent application for those long sleeves.
posted by selfnoise at 7:58 PM on October 23, 2005

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