This article examines the connection between appearance and political careers in Han China, discussing what was valued in the physical features, dress, and manners of the men who governed China's first long-lasting empire. Noticing important shifts over the course of the Han, the author argues that the revival of the classical notion of weiyi 威儀 (dignified manners) from the mid-Western Han well into the Eastern Han had important implications for the definition and self-perception of the empire's governing elite. The article closes with an examination of how the Han elite grappled with the problems presented by the deceptiveness of appearance.

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