This top depicts a Chinese person with a queue hairstyle, which was traditionally worn by Manchu men and later became a hairstyle imposed on the Han Chinese in the seventeenth century, during the Qing dynasty. Despite its foreign origins, the image of men’s queue hairstyle came to be popularly seen by the West as a quintessentially Chinese. Playing with this stereotypical image, Hiroi-sensei whimsically stands the queue pigtail straight up in the air to become the handle of the top.
Hiroi Michiaki: Umm what is this. Oh, it’s Nanking-san. Nanking-san is… Long ago Japan greatly respected China, and so Chinese people were called Nanking-san, and so it was like [unintelligible]. That pigtail–in the past Chinese people grew out their hair. This top puts that hair high up into the air, and makes it the handle of the top that spins it.