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The queue or cue is a hair style prior to the . Hair on top of the scalp is grown long and is often braided, while the front portion of the head is shaved. It was worn by the of and certain groups. Some early modern military organizations have also used similar styles.

The requirement that Han Chinese and others under Manchu rule give up their traditional hairstyles and wear the queue was met with resistance, although opinions about the queue did change over time.


Jurchen queue[]

men, like their Manchu descendants, wore their hair in queues. In 1126, the Jurchen ordered male within their conquered territories to adopt the Jurchen hairstyle by shaving the front of their heads and to adopt Jurchen dress, but the order was lifted. Some Han rebels impersonated Jurchen by wearing their hair in the Jurchen "pigtail" to strike fear within the Jurchen population.

Manchu queue[]

Manchu queues A European artist's conception of a Manchu warrior in China – surprisingly, holding the severed head of an enemy by its queue. Later historians have noted the queue looking more like as an inconsistency in the picture. (From the cover of 's Regni Sinensis a Tartari devastati enarratio, 1661.)

The queue was a specifically male worn by the from central and later imposed on the during the . The hair on the front of the head was shaved off above the temples every ten days and the remainder of the hair was braided into a long braid.

The Manchu hairstyle was forcefully introduced to Han Chinese in the early 17th century during the . of the clan declared the establishment of the Later Jin dynasty, later becoming the Qing dynasty of , after forces in defected to his side. The Ming general of , Li Yongfang, defected to Nurhaci after Nurhaci promised him rewards, titles, and Nurhaci's own granddaughter in marriage. Other Han Chinese generals in Liaodong proceeded to defect with their armies to Nurhaci and were given women from the family in marriage. Once firmly in power, Nurhaci commanded all men in the areas he conquered to adopt the Manchu hairstyle.

The Manchu hairstyle signified Han submission to Qing rule, and also aided the Manchu identification of those Han who refused to accept Qing dynasty domination.

The hairstyle was compulsory for all males and the penalty for non-compliance was execution for . In the early 1910s, after the fall of the Qing dynasty, the Chinese no longer had to wear the Manchu queue. While some, such as , still did so as a tradition, most of them abandoned it after the last , , cut his queue in 1922.

Queue order[]

Chinese circus performers soon after the Manchu conquest, wearing queues. (Drawing by , 1655–57)

The Queue Order (: 剃发令; : 剃髮令; : tìfàlìng), or decree, was a series of laws violently imposed by the Qing (Manchu) dynasty in the seventeenth century. It was also imposed on in 1753, and in the late 19th century, though the , whose was a of China, requested and were granted an exemption from the mandate.

Traditionally, adult did not cut their hair for philosophical and cultural reasons. According to the , said

“ We are given our body, skin and hair from our parents; which we ought not to damage. This idea is the quintessence of filial duty. (身體髮膚,受之父母,不敢毀傷,孝至始也。) ”

As a result of this ideology, both men and women wound their hair into a bun (a ) or other various hairstyles.

In 1644, Beijing was sacked by a coalition of rebel forces led by , a minor Ming dynasty official turned leader of a peasant revolt. The committed suicide when the city fell, marking the official end of the Ming dynasty. The Han Chinese Ming general and his army then defected to the Qing and allowed them through Shanhai pass. They then seized control of Beijing, overthrowing Li's short-lived . They then forced Han Chinese to adopt the queue as a sign of submission.

A year later, after the Qing armies reached , on July 21, 1645, Dorgon issued an edict ordering all Han men to shave their foreheads and braid the rest of their hair into a queue identical to those worn by the Manchus. The Han Chinese were given 10 days to comply or face death. Although Dorgon admitted that followers of might have grounds for objection, most Han officials cited the Ming dynasty's traditional System of Rites and Music as their reason for resistance. This led Dorgon to question their motives: "If officials say that people should not respect our Rites and Music, but rather follow those of the Ming, what can be their true intentions?"

The slogan adopted by the was "Cut the hair and keep the head, (or) keep the hair and cut the head" (: ; : ). People resisted the order and the struck back with deadly force, massacring all who refused to obey. rebels in tortured to death the official who suggested the queue order to , and killed his relatives.

The imposition of this order was not uniform; it took up to 10 years of martial enforcement for all of China to be brought into compliance, and while it was the Qing who imposed the queue hairstyle on the general population, they did not always personally execute those who did not obey. It was who carried out massacres against people refusing to wear the queue. , a Han Chinese general who had served the Ming but defected to the Qing, ordered troops to carry out three separate massacres in the city of Jiading within a month, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. The third massacre left few survivors. The three massacres at are some of the most infamous, with estimated death tolls in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. also held out against about 10,000 Qing troops for 83 days. When the city wall was finally breached on October 9, 1645, the Qing army, led by the Han Chinese Ming defector (劉良佐), who had been ordered to "fill the city with corpses before you sheathe your swords," massacred the entire population, killing between 74,000 and 100,000 people.

Han Chinese soldiers in 1645 under Han General Hong Chengchou forced the queue on the people of Jiangnan while Han people were initially paid silver to wear the queue in when it was first implemented.

The queue was the only aspect of Manchu culture that the Qing forced on the common Han population. The Qing required people serving as officials to wear Manchu clothing but allowed other Han civilians to continue wearing (Han clothing) but most Han civilian men voluntarily adopted Manchu clothing like on their own free will. Throughout the Qing dynasty Han women continued to wear Han clothing.

Since the Qing dynasty grouped Muslims by language, the Han Hui (currently known as ) were classified as Han Chinese, so they were required to wear the queue. Turkic Muslims, like the and , were not required to wear the queue. During the Qing Salar men shaved their hair bald while when they went to journey in public they put on artificial queues. Uyghur men shaved their hair bald during the Qing.

However, after invaded , Turkistani Muslim and officials in Xinjiang eagerly fought for the "privilege" of wearing a queue to show their steadfast loyalty to the Empire. High-ranking begs were granted this right.

The purpose of the Queue Order was to demonstrate loyalty to the Qing and, conversely, growing one's hair came to symbolize revolutionary ideals, such as during the . The members of the were called the (長毛) or Hair rebels (髮逆).

Resistance to the queue[]

Han Chinese resistance to adopting the queue was widespread and bloody. The Chinese in the rebelled in 1622 and 1625 in response to the implementation of the mandatory hairstyle. The Manchus responded swiftly by killing the educated elite and instituting a stricter separation between Han Chinese and Manchus.

In 1645, the enforcement of the queue order was taken a step further by the ruling Manchus when it was decreed that any man who did not adopt the Manchu hairstyle within ten days would be executed. The intellectual summed up the Chinese reaction to the implementation of the mandatory Manchu hairstyle by stating, "In fact, the Chinese people in those days revolted not because the country was on the verge of ruin, but because they had to wear queues." In 1683 surrendered and wore a queue.

The queue became a symbol of the Qing dynasty and a custom except among . Some revolutionists, supporters of the or students who studied abroad cut their braids. The in 1911 led to a complete change in hairstyle almost overnight. The queue became unpopular as it became associated with a ; this is depicted in 's short story in which Chinese citizens in collectively changed to short haircuts.


Neither Taoist priests nor Buddhist monks were required to wear the queue by the Qing; they continued to wear their traditional hairstyles, completely shaved heads for Buddhist monks, and long hair in the traditional Chinese topknot for Taoist priests.

Foreign reaction[]

Barbershop in the Qing Dynasty

The Manchus' willingness to impose the queue and their dress style on the men of China and their success in suppressing the resistance was viewed as an example to emulate by some foreign observers. , a British administrator in India, wrote in 1887 that the British rulers ought to act in a similarly decisive way when imposing their will in India. In his view, the British administrators should have outlawed the much earlier than they actually did (1829), and in James' own day they should have acted as severely against Indian journalists expressing to the British rule.

Other queues[]

Curley Bear with queued hair.
  • The queue is also a hairstyle, as described in the book by .
  • British soldiers and sailors during the 18th century wore their hair in a style known as the queue. While not always braided, the hair was similarly pulled back very tight into a single tail, wrapped around a piece of leather and tied down with a ribbon. The hair was also often greased and powdered in a fashion similar to powdered , or tarred in the case of sailors. It was said that the soldiers' hair was pulled back so tightly that they had difficulty closing their eyes afterwards. The use of white hair powder in the British Army was discontinued in 1796 and queues were ordered to be cut off four years later. They continued to be worn in the for a while longer, where they were known as "". Officers wore pigtails until 1805 and other ranks continued to wear them until about 1820.
  • Painting of the with the Prussian soldiers wearing the soldier's queue In the 18th century, European soldiers styled their traditionally long hair into a queue called the "soldier's queue" (Soldatenzopf), which was previously only allowed for . That hairstyle first became mandatory in the and those of several other states within the under . An artificial or "" queue was issued to recruits whose hair was too short to plait. The style was abolished in the Prussian army in 1807.

See also[]


  1. 张博泉(Zhang Boquan) 1984,] pp. 97-98.
  2. , p. 417.
  3. Jia Sheng (贾笙), 2010-11-16 at the . ("Keep the hair, lose the head" in the - era)
  4. July 7, 2011, at the .
  5. Zi Yunju (紫雲居), : 中國的髮爪與接觸巫術 2011-07-21 at the . (Hair, nails, and magic of China)
  6. Li Ziming (李子明), (Barber's tale: notes from the life of Chinese abroad in the late Qing era)
  7. Lao Lu (Chinese: 老鲁), (Thoroughly changing the customs officially established for 200 years: the story of queue-cutting in the early period)
  8. Paolo Santangelo (9 July 2013). . BRILL. pp. 829–.  . 
  9. Evelyn S. Rawski (15 November 1998). . University of California Press. pp. 41–.  . 
  10. July 9, 2009, at the .
  11. June 12, 2009, at the .
  12. []
  13. .
  14. De Bary; William T. (1999). Sources of Chinese Tradition. Columbia University Press. p. 326. 
  15. ^ Kuhn, Philip A. (1990). Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768. Harvard University Press. pp. 53–54. 
  16. , p. 647; , p. 662; , p. 87 (which calls this edict "the most untimely promulgation of [Dorgon's] career."
  17. Chee Kiong Tong; et al. (2001). . Brill Publishers. p. 44.  . 
  18. 研堂見聞雜記
  19. .[]
  20. Ebrey, Patricia (1993). Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. Simon and Schuster. p. 271. 
  21. , p. 83.
  22. ^ Godley, Michael R. (September 2011). . CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY. China Heritage Project, The Australian National University (27).  . 
  23. Justus Doolittle (1876). . Harpers. pp. 242–. 
  24. Edward J. M. Rhoads (2000). . University of Washington Press. pp. 61–.  . 
  25. Twitchett, Denis; Fairbank, John K. (2008) Cambridge History of China Volume 9 Part 1 The Ch'ing Empire to 1800, p87-88
  26. 周锡保. 《中国古代服饰史》. 中国戏剧出版社. 2002-01-01: 449.  .
  27. Morris Rossabi (2005). Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers. University of Washington Press.  . p. 22
  28. Arienne M. Dwyer (2007). . Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 22.  . 
  29. Pamela Kyle Crossley; Helen F. Siu; Donald S. Sutton (January 2006). . University of California Press. p. 127.  . 
  30. James Millward (1 June 1998). . Stanford University Press. pp. 204–.  . 
  31. , ed. (1998). Hair: Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures. State University of New York Press. p. 128. 
  32. ^ .
  33. . 24 April 2013. Archived from on 24 April 2013. 
  34. October 3, 2011, at the .
  35. Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong – Volume One. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. ISBN Volume One 962-7283-59-2
  36. Edward J. M. Rhoads (2000). . University of Washington Press. pp. 60–.  . 
  37. Gerolamo Emilio Gerini (1895). . Bangkok Times. pp. 11–. 
  38. . The Museum. 1921. pp. 102–. 
  39. George Cockburn (1896). . J. Gardner Hitt. pp. 86–. 
  40. Robert van Gulik (15 November 2010). . University of Chicago Press. pp. 174–.  . 
  41. James William Buel (1883). . A.L. Bancroft & Company. pp. 312–. 
  42. Justus Doolittle (1876). . Harpers. pp. 241–. 
  43. . Archived from on April 2, 2016. Retrieved March 21, 2016. 
  44. . Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  45. . Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University. 1994. p. 63. 
  46. James, Sir Henry Evan Murchison (1888). . Longmans, Green, and Co.: 110–112 
  47. Stocqueler, Joachim Hayward (1871) , Edward Stanford, London (pp. 103-104)
  48. Wilkinson-Latham, Robert (1977) Osprey Publishing,   (p. 34)
  49. Hudson, Elizabeth Harriot (1878), ( reprinted by Adamant Media Corporation (September 13, 2001) (pp. 214-215)

Works cited

  • Faure, David (2007), Emperor and Ancestor: State and Lineage in South China, Stanford University Press,  . 
  • Rhoads, Edward J. M. (2011). . University of Washington Press.  . Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  • Sinor, Denis, ed. (1990). (illustrated, reprint ed.). Cambridge University Press.  . Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  • 张博泉(Zhang Boquan) (1984). 《金史简编》. 辽宁人民出版社. 
  • Also mentioned in "Dragonwings", by Laurence Yep, Chapter 4

Further reading[]

  • Dennerline, Jerry (2002), , in Peterson, Willard J., Cambridge History of China, Vol. 9, Part 1: The Ch'ing Dynasty to 1800, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 73–119,   
  • Struve, Lynn (1988), , in Frederic W. Mote; Denis Twitchett; John King Fairbank (eds.), Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, The Ming Dynasty, 1368–1644, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 641–725,   CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list () .
  • (1985), , Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press,   . In two volumes.
  • Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm: China in Tigers' Jaws – By Struve, Lynn A. Publisher:Yale University Press, 1998 ( ,  ) (312 pages)

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