July 10's Fact of the Week: Manchu Queue Haircut

With the Manchu’s conquest of China, Chinese men had to shave the front of their head and then braid the back hair into a particular hairstyle later called the “Manchu Queue haircut.” Accordingly, Chinese men were mandated to submit to the hairstyle in order to demonstrate political fidelity to the Manchu; those that did not have the hairstyle and preserved his hair were charged with treason or faced with punishment or death. For example, numerous accounts documented that Chinese men died in resistance to the change of fashion and costume as a controversial decree, a forced change of tradition and culture. Nonetheless, the Manchu mandated the Queue hairstyle as a social mask for identification, which embodied a marker, both external and internal, for political fidelity, conformity, and pacification. With the fall of the Qing dynasty, some kept the haircut as a sign of fashion and tradition.