Pùhn Fā Náu

Elizabeth Tang

A detailed shot of traditional red qipao, there are various embellishments and embroidery featured throughout the photograph. The embroidery on the garment is shiny and catches your eye.

“Nǐ hǎo”, “Chǎo miàn”, and “Gūng Héi Faat Chòih” are the only Chinese phrases that the western world seems to know. When you add a lack of knowledge and representation in combination with the stereotypical image portrayed by the media, you have the current public image of Chinese culture.

As generations grow up in the western world, we lose more and more of our cultural roots, our clothing being one of them. The traditional qipao is a garment that only comes out during special occasions and usually, at least in my household, for about 20 minutes while we take Lunar New Year photos. Then, it goes back into the closet for another year.

Pùhn Fā Náu, named after the flower knot buttons found on the qipao, is a series of images documenting these garments as everyday clothing along with close-ups of the garments themselves.

It is crucial that we normalize our clothing once again so that it doesn’t become a costume or a stereotype. Such a significant part of our history should be shown off, not judged and stared at. Normalizing our culture is the only way to ensure that it doesn’t die out and that it will reach future generations.