Hi! Okay so, I'm trying to do my first OOAK doll based on Mulan, and her story goes back to about 500AD, right? I found the history of hanfu post and a couple of them overlap. Can you help me narrow down what Mulan might have actually worn when not on the battlefield?
Hi, thanks for the question!
The historic setting of Mulan is the Northern and Southern dynasties period (420–589), specifically the Northern Wei dynasty (386–536).
During the Northern Wei dynasty, women usually wore two-piece ruqun/襦裙. The cross-collared tops (“ru”) of the ruqun were mostly simple and short, whereas the skirts (“qun”) were elaborate, and wrapped tightly around the waist. The sleeves were excessively wide. Below – Northern Wei figures of young women (X):
As you can see, one of the most distinctive features of Northern Wei hanfu was the collar, which was much wider and open at the top compared to collars during other periods of Chinese history. The collars were so wide as to render visible the circular-collared undergarments women wore underneath their tops. Below – historical recreation of Northern Wei ruqun (X):
As for the skirts, they were wrapped relatively high around the waist, with the ends of the sash trailing down the front. The skirts were typically long and finely pleated. Below – additional historical recreations of Northern Wei ruqun from 裝束复原 and 朝代復原体验:
Finally, when it came to hairstyles, Northern Wei women tended to do their hair up into two buns, in order to look slender and more elegant (X):
I hope this helps give you a better idea of what Mulan might have actually worn when not on the battlefield, and good luck! Also, if anyone has more insights into Northern Wei hanfu, please do share! ^^
Edit: Here are two more examples of Northern and Southern dynasties hanfu for women, from 踏云馆: