Chinese Boys' Hair Styles: Pigtails

Figure 1.--Notice how Chinese boys wore their hair in pigtails with the hair shave at the forehead. I'm not sure when this photograph was taken, but it looks like the early 20th century.

This was a fashion introduced by the Manchus in the 17th century. Originally it was a sign of submision demanded by the first Manchu Emperor only one year after seizing the throne in 1645. Chinese men shaved the front of their head, then combed the back hair into braids. They used not only their own natural hair, but also horsehair or black silk. The Chinese came to see their braided pigtails a sign of dignity and manhood. For the Chinese, to pull on another's pigtails was a great insult. I am not sure to what extent boys wore them or just at what age a Chinese boy began to grow his pigtail. Unmarried Chinese girls also often wore their hair in pigtails. It was a pervasive style in the 19th century. Most Chinese immigrants that came to America in the 19th century had these plaited pigtails. We notice that many boys wearing pigtails look like their forehead has been shaved.


Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[The 1880s] [The 1890s]
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Related Style Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Return to the Main pigtail page]
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Created: August 28, 2001
Last updated: March 25, 2004