Cutting off the Queue for Faith, Preserving the Queue for Face: Chinese Muslims’ Queue-Cutting Movements in North China during the Xinhai Revolution Period

  • Noriko UNNO-YAMAZAKI Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Keywords: Chinese Muslims, queue (hairstyle), Xinhai Revolution, North China, nationalism


This article attempts to relativise the nationalism of Chinese-speaking Muslims, which has tended to be overemphasized in previous studies, focusing on a movement in which Muslims in North China cut off their braids or queues––Manchu men’s traditional hairstyle imposed on Chinese people under the Qing rule––and related debates among the Muslim elite before and after the Xinhai Revolution. Unlike some Chinese men who cut off their braids for patriotic reasons or anti-Manchu sentiment, Muslims did so for religious reasons, arguing that Islam forbids queues because they look like the tail of a pig, an animal considered to be unclean in their religion. It is notable that some Muslims simply followed the social trend among the majority and cut off their queues, while a young Muslim scholar in Tianjin chose not to do so to prevent conflicts among Muslims and save face. This study thus illustrates the complex and diverse opinions of Muslims at that time, which cannot be completely explained by patriotism or piety.


Ahmed Ali, S. V, and Mirza Mahdi Pooya. 2004. The Holy Qur’an: Arabic Text with English Translation and Commentary. 4th ed. Elmhurst: Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc.

Anonymous. 1910. “Jian bianzi 剪辮子 (Cutting the Queue).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 1437, December 10, 2010.

Anonymous. 1912a. “Ji qingzhen jianfa tongzhihui 紀清真剪髪同志會 (Recording the Islamic Hair Cutting Group).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 1813, January 2, 1912.

Anonymous. 1912b. “Jianfa yizhi 剪髪彙誌 (Note on Queue-cutting).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 2050, September 5, 1912.

Anonymous. 1912c. “Lügao: Shu wo huijiaoshi bukeng xieli tichang jianfa zhi yuanyin 録稿: 述我回教師不肯竭力提唱剪髪之原因 (Lü Tianjin Baihuabao 録天津白話報) (Reported: Describing the Reasons Why Our Ahongs Never Advocate Cutting Queues (published in Tianjin Baihuabao).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 1813, January 2, 1912.

Atwill, David G. 2005. The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856–1873. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Baofa xingwuzi 保髪醒悟子. 1912. “Laigao: Quan jianfa qianshuo 來稿: 勧剪髪 浅説 (Contribution: A Shallow Discussion on Recommending Haircuts).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 2050, September 5, 1912.

Broomhall, Marshall. 1966 (1910). Islam in China: A Neglected Problem. New York: Paragon Book Reprint Corp.

Bukhārī, Muhׅammad ibn Ismā‘īl. 1997. Sׅahׅīhׅ al- Bukhārī: The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al- Bukhārī: Arabic-English. Translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan, vol. 7. Riyadh: Dar-us-Salam Publications.

Chen, Xiaohu, ed. 2011. Huizu yu xinhai geming 回族與辛亥革命 (Huizu and Xinhai Revolution). Yinchuan: Ningxia renmin chubanshe.

Cheng, Weikun. 1998. “Politics of the Queue: Agitation and Resistance in the Beginning and End of Qing China.” In Hair: Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures, edited by Albany Alif Hiltebeitel et al., 123–42. New York: State University of New York Press.

Dillon, Michael. 1999. China’s Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects. London: Curzon Press.

Godley, Michael R. 1994. “The End of the Queue: Hair as Symbol in Chinese History.” East Asian History 8: 53–72.

Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face-to-Face Behavior. Garden City: Anchor.

Han, Zhao 韓釗. 2015. “Shinmatsu chūgoku ni okeru ‘kokusui undō’ to ‘kokugaku’ gainen no sōsei: ‘kokusui ha’ tō jitsu wo chūshin ni 清末中国における 「国粋運動」と「国学」概念:「国粋派」鄧実を中心に (The ‘Guocui’ Movement and the Creation of the Concept of ‘Guoxue’ in the Late Qing China: With a Focus on an ‘Ultranationalist’ Deng-Shi).” Ajia taihēyō kenkyūka ronshū アジア太平洋研究科論集 30: 153–75.

Hastings, James, John Alexander Selbie, and Louis Herbert Gray. 1916. Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 8. Edinburgh: T. & T.

Ho, David Yau-Fai. 1976. “On the Concept of Face.” American Journal of Sociology 81 (4): 867–84.

Hou, Jie, and Hu Wei 侯傑 胡偉. 2005. “Tifa, xufa, jianfa: qingdai bianfa de shenti zhengzhishi yanjiu 剃髪、蓄髪、剪髪:清代辮髪的身体政治史研究 (Hair-Cutting, Hair-Wearing, and Braid-Cutting: Studies on a Body-Politics History of Hair and Braid in Qing Dynasty).” Xueshu yuekan 學術月刊 10: 79–88.

İbrahim, Abdürreşid. 1911. ‘Âlem-i İslâm ve Japonya’da İntişâr-ı İslâmiyet (The World of Islam and the Difussion of Islam in Japan), vol. 1. İstanbul: Ahׅmed Sâkׅî Bey Matׅba‘ası.

Kawakami, Norimasa 川上哲正. 2001. “Shingai kakumeiki ni okeru kokusui shugi to kindai shigaku: nihon kindai tono kōsa no shiten kara 辛亥革命期にお ける国粋主義と近代史学:日本近代との交差の視点から (Nationalism and Modern Historical Studies at the Time of the Xinhai Revolution).” Tōyō bunka kenkyū 東洋文化研究 3: 1–24.

Ko, Dorothy. 1997. “The Body as Attire: The Shifting Meanings of Footbinding in Seventeenth-Century China.” Journal of Women’s History 8 (4): 8–27.

–––. 2002. Every Step a Lotus: Shoes for Bound Feet. Berkely: University of California Press.

Kuhn, Philip. 1990. Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Kuwabara, Jitsuzō 桑原隲蔵. 1927. Tōyōshi zeien 東洋史説苑 (Historical Stories of Oriental History). Tōkyō: Kōbundō shobō 弘文堂書房.

Legge, James. 1881. The Religions of China: Confucianism and Tâoism Described and Compared with Christianity. New York: Scribner.

Letian 楽天. 1911. “Yanshuo: Fabian de guanxi 演説: 髪辮的関係 (Speech: Regarding Queue-cutting).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 1809, December 29, 1911.

Lin, Yutang. 1935. My Country and My People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock.

Lipman, Jonathan. 2004. “White Hats, Oil Cakes, and Common Blood.” In Governing China’s Multiethnic Frontiers, edited by Morris Rossabi, 19–52. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

–––. 2006. “‘A Fierce and Brutal People’: On Islam and Muslims in Qing Law.” In Empire at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity, and Frontier in Early Modern China, edited by Pamela Crossely, Helen Siu, and Donald Sutton, 83–112. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Liu, Mengyang. 劉孟揚. 1910. “Lügao: Huijiao Ahong yingdang jianfa 録稿: 回教 阿衡應當剪髪(録民興報) (Islamic Ahongs Should Cut Off Their Queues: Reprinted from Minxingbao).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 1426, November 29, 1910.

Lu, Xun 魯迅. 1959. “Shuo mianzi 説面子 (On Face).” Selected Works of Lu Xun, vol. 4. Translated by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang. Peking: Foreign Language Press.

Ma, Haiyun. 2006. “Patriotic and Pious Muslim Intellectuals in Modern China: The Case of Ma Jian.” American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 23 (3): 54–70.

Matsumoto, Masumi 松本ますみ. 2003. “Chūgoku no isurāmu shinbunka undō: Musurimu mainoriti no ikinokori senryaku 中国のイスラーム新文化運 動:ムスリム・マイノリティの生き残り戦略 (The New Cultural Movement of Islam in China: The Survival Strategy of a Muslim Minority).” In Gendai isurāmu shisō to seiji undō 現代イスラーム思想と政治運動 (Islamic Thoughts Today and Political Movements), edited by Yasushi Kosugi and Hisao Komatsu, 141–65. Tōkyō: Tōkyō daigaku shuppankai 東京大学出版会.

––––. 2006. “Rationalizing Patriotism among Muslim Chinese: The Impact of the Middle East on the Yuehua Journal.” In Intellectuals in the Modern Islamic World: Transmission, Transformation and Communication, edited by Stéphane Dudoignon, Hisao Komatsu, and Yasushi Kosugi, 117–42. London: Routledge.

Mengdie 夢蝶. 1911. “Jianfa zhi nan 剪髪之難 (The Difficulties of Haircut).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 1802, December 22, 1911.

Metzger, Sean. 2014. Chinese Looks: Fashion, Performance, Race. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Millward, James. 1998. Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759–1864. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Mochida, Yōhei 持田洋平. 2012. “Shingapōru kajin shakai no ‘kindai’ no hajimari ni kansuru ikkōsatsu: Rin bunkei to benpatsu setsujo katsudō wo chūshin ni シンガポール華人社会の「近代」の始まりに関する一考察: 林文慶と辮 髪切除活動を中心に (Reconsidering the Beginning of the ‘Modern Era’ of the Singapore Chinese Society: Lim Boon Keng and Queue-cutting Activism. 1898–1899).” Kakyō kajin kenkyū 華僑華人研究 9: 7–27.

Rhoads, Edward J. M. 2000. Manchus and Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861–1928. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Ryū, Kaori 劉香織. 1990. Danpatsu: Kindai higashi ajia no bunka shōtotsu 断髪: 近代東アジアの文化衝突 (Cutting Hair off: Cultural Clashes in Modern East Asia). Tōkyō: Asahi Shinbunsha 朝日新聞社.

Şükrü, Karçınzade Süleyman. 2005 (1907). Seyâhׅatü’l-Kübrâ/Büyük Seyahat (Ground Tour). Eğirdir: Eğirdir Belediyesi.

Tao, Hong 陶紅. 2003. Huizu fushi wenhua 回族服飾文化 (The Fashion Cultures of Huizu). Yinchuan: Ningxia renmin chubanshe 寧夏人民出版社.

Tejapira, Kasian. 1992. “Pigtail: A Pre-History of Chineseness in Siam.” Sojourn 7: 95–122.

Unno, Noriko 海野典子. 2015. “Benpatsu wa han isurāmu teki ka?: Nijusseiki shotō no ‘senpatsu’ būmu ni miru kahoku musurimu shakai no shosō 辮 髪は反イスラーム的か? : 20世紀初頭の「剪髪」ブームに見る華北ム スリム社会の諸相 (Is the Queue Hairstyle Un-Islamic? : An Analysis of Muslim Communities in North China with a Focus on the Queue-Cutting Movement in the Early Twentieth Century).” Ajia chīki bunka kenkyū アジア 地域文化研究 12: 51–73.

–––. 2016. “Chūgoku musurimu no ‘seishin’ ishiki to jita ninshiki: Nijusseiki shotō no kahoku chīki ni okeru harāru mondai to ‘kai’ ‘kan’ kankei 中国ムスリムの 「清真」意識と自他認識:20世紀初頭の華北地域におけるハラール 問題と「回」「漢」関係 (The “Qingzhen” Consciousness and Self-Other Recognition of Chinese Muslims: The Halal Question and “Hui”-“Han” Relations in North China in the Early Twentieth Century).” Journal of Islamic Area Studies イスラーム地域研究ジャーナル 8: 12–24.

Unno-Yamazaki, Noriko 海野(山﨑)典子. 2016. “Under Crescent and Full Moons: Contradiction and Coherence of Muslims in Beijing 1906–1913.” PhD Dissertation. The University of Tokyo.

Wakeman, Frederick E. Jr. 1975. “Localism and Loyalism during the Ch’ing Conquest of Kiangnan.” In Conflict and Control in Late Imperial China, edited by Frederick E. Jr. Wakeman and Carolyn Grant, 43–85. Berkeley: University of California Press.

–––. 1985. The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth-Century China. vol, 1. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wang, Jianping. 2001. A Glossary of Chinese Islamic Terms. Richmond: Curzon Press. Wang, Jingzhai. 1910. “Du Huijiao ahong yingdang jianfa zhi yanshuo yougan 讀回教阿衡應當剪髪之演説有感 (Impressions after Reading the Article about How Islamic Ahongs Should Cut Queues).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗 愛國報 1440, December 23, 1910.

Xinmin 新民. 1912. “Yanshuo: Jianbian bu yifu 演説: 剪辮不易服 (Speech: Cutting a Queue, Not Changing Clothes).” Zhengzong Aiguobao 正宗愛國報 1812, January 1, 1912.

Yamazaki, Noriko. 2014. “Abdürreşid İbrahim’s Journey to China: Muslim Communities in the Late Qing as Seen by a Russian-Tatar Intellectual.” Central Asian Survey 33 (3): 405–20.

Yoshizawa, Seiichirō 吉澤誠一郎. 2003. Aikokushugi no sōsei: Nashonarizumu kara kindai chūgoku wo miru 愛国主義の創成:ナショナリズムから近代中国 をみる (Creation of Aiguo zhuyi: Modern China from the Perspective of Nationalism). Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten 岩波書店.
Social Shifts and Ideological Conversions