Han Fu is a literary form between poem and prose, i.e. rhymed prose.
Han Fu originated from Fu by Xunzi. In the early stage, it was largely in the style of Li Sao (The Lament), and resembled Chu Ci in form. Later, the Seven Stimuli by Mei Cheng initiated a new prosified Fu style, Han Fu.
Han Fu is classified into Da Fu and Xiao Fu. Da Fu is featured by large volume, extensive structure, imposing manner and ornate vocabulary. Most are masterworks with tens of thousands of words. Representative writers of Da Fu include Jia Yi, Mei Cheng and Sima Xiangru of the Western Han dynasty, and Ban Gu and Zhang Heng of the Eastern Han dynasty. Xiao Fu, however, is short, lucid and graceful. They were written to satirize current affairs, express emotions, or sing in expressing the love for things. Representative writers of Xiao Fu include Zhao Yi, Cai Yong and Mi Heng, etc.
The contents of Han Fu can be classified into five types: 1. glamorizing palaces and cities; 2. describing the king’s hunting tours; 3. narrating traveling experience; 4. expressing grief for leaving talents to rust; and 5. writing about animals and plants. Most representative works of Han Fu fall into the first two types.
Most Han Fu works got scattered and lost while being spread. There are more than 200 extant works, including some fragmentary ones, which are included in Records of the Grand History of China, Han history, History of the Later Han Dynasty and Collection and etc. The representative works include the Zi Xu Fu by Sima Xiangru, the Seven Stimuli by Mei Cheng, and the Funiao Fu by Jiayi.