These Chinese scepters made in different materials were given as good luck and longevity symbols on birthdays and new year celebrations, particularly by the 18th century emperor Qianlong. The word ruyi means “as you wish.” Now on view in gallery 226.
These illustrations depict Jiu Ge/九歌 (“Nine Songs”), a set of ancient Chinese poems that represent some shamanistic dramatic practices of the Yangtze River valley area, involving the invocation of divine beings and seeking their blessings.
Is Mulan getting bathed,dressed up and makeup applied on her face,meeting the Matchmaker,reciting the admonition and tasked to pour the tea accurate in ancient Chinese customs?
Hi! I looked into it, and I couldn’t find the specific method in which ancient Chinese women went to meet the matchmaker. However, based on what I’ve found, the matchmaker’s examination of Mulan as depicted in the film doesn’t seem to have existed.
The matchmaker’s job in ancient China was to connect potential brides with potential grooms. When a boy’s parents found a potential daughter-in-law, the parents contacted a matchmaker. If the girl and her parents accepted the proposal, the matchmaker would match their birth dates using Chinese fortune telling. If the results were good, the bridegroom’s family arranged for the matchmaker to present a bride price and a dowry to the bride’s family. The matchmaker also assuaged the conflict of interests and general embarrassments on the part of two families largely unknown to each other when discussing the possibility of marriage. (Source)
Therefore, it appears that matchmakers’ clients were primarily the boys’ families (rather than the girls’), and that they were focused on connecting couples in which one side had already shown an interest toward the other. Therefore, testing the girls (reciting admonitions, pouring tea) would be unnecessary.
What is the male Hanfu crown-thing with the hairpin called? Thanks in advance. =)
Hi, thanks for the question!
The crown-like headwear with a hairpin that is worn with men’s Hanfu is called Guan/冠. The Guan is a headdress that can cover either the full top of the head or just the topknot, and makes use of a hairpin which goes across the topknot to stabilize itself. Please see my posts on traditional Chinese male headwear andGuan in particularfor more information.
You may also be thinking of a specific type of Guan called Mianguan/冕冠, which is a formal headdress that was worn by royalty and officials.
The Mianguan consists of a crown topped with a long board, with strands of jade beads draped from the two ends. Please see my post on Mianguan for more information. (Illustration Via)
For more references, please check out my Guan tag. Hope this helps!
(Photos via Chinese TV series “Secret of the Three Kingdoms”)
Hi, I was just wondering if you have had a post regarding those metal things men in pre Qing imperial China wore over their topknots? I was wondering if you knew what they were called and if their were an indication of social rank?
Hi, thanks for the question!
By metal things – do you mean this kind of headwear?:
If so, I actually do have a post on the various types of traditional male headwear here, and I have a mens headwear tag for more on the subject.
This headwear is a Guan/冠 (headdress), which can cover either the full top of the head or just the topknot, and makes use of a hairpin which goes across the topknot to stabilize itself. The type of Guan you’re asking about is probably the Xiao Guan/小冠 (small Guan), which can come in various shapes, as long as it is the size fitting to that of a topknot. (Source)
Here’s a nifty collage showing the Xiaoguan in the TV drama Nirvana In Fire (the middle one and the ones circled in red are Xiaoguan; the rest are a different type of Guan called Long Guan/笼冠):
Male headwear is absolutely an indication of social rank. Guan occupy the highest rank, and were worn by men of status, such as royals, nobles, and officials (they are also worn for weddings and ceremonies in general). Different types of Guan signified different occupations, occasions, and positions in society.
May I ask what is the hair accessories for males that went over the manbun (not hair pins)
Hi, great question!
There are so many different types of male hats and headwear throughout Chinese history, it would be impossible for me to list them all. A brief intro:
– The typical types of male headwear are called Jin (巾) for soft caps, Mao (帽) for stiff hats, and Guan (冠) for formal headdresses.
– The term guan is traditionally an umbrella term encompassing all forms of headgear that cover the wearer’s hair, and is also commonly called Shoufu(首服/clothing of the head). The guan makes use of a hairpin which goes across a topknot of hair to stabilize itself, and is coupled with a sash tied underneath the chin.
– Jin are caps of civilian usage. Head-cloths wrapping the head and topknot fall into the jin category. For example, one type of jin is the Wangjin(网巾/net cap), which became popular during the Ming Dynasty:
– Officials and academics have a separate set of hats, typically the Putou (幞頭), Wushamao (烏紗帽), Si-fang pingding jin (四方平定巾; or simply, Fangjin: 方巾), and Zhuangzi jin (莊子巾).
Here are three great resources that describe male hair/head accessories:
Emperor Xian, last emperor of the Han Dynasty, from the 2008 film Red Cliff. He wears a kind of Hanfu (han chinese clothing) called Miǎn Fú/冕服, which is the highest level of formal dress worn by emperors, princes, and kings in China from the Shang Dynasty until the Ming Dynasty.
The top half of the clothing is normally black and the lower half normally crimson, symbolizing the order of heaven and earth. Dragons are the most common type of embroidery. Twelve other decorative patterns include symbolic animals, and scenes with the sun and moon. Mianfu are fastened with a belt, under which there is a decorative cloth called Bì Xī/蔽膝, which is an important component of ceremonial Hanfu. The emperor’s Bixi was pure red in color. (X)
An important part of Mianfu is the formal headdress called Miǎn Guān/冕冠. It consists of a crown topped with a long board, with strands of jade beads draped from the two ends. The Emperor’s Mianguan exclusively uses 12 strands of 12 jade beads front and back, while members of the royalty are entitled to use 9 strands of 9 beads.
High and middle-rank officials also can use similar designs with 7 or 5 strands of the same number of beads.
From 1368, after seizing power from the Mongolian-ruled Yuan dynasty, the Ming dynasty adjusted the rituals that did not conform to the customs of the Han people, adopting and restoring the systems and customs of the Tang and Song dynasties. The hairstyles of Ming women were not as rich as those of the Tang and Song, but nevertheless had their own unique characteristics. Below – Common Ming hairstyles:
The early Ming inherited the hairstyles of the Song and Yuan. After the Jiajing period
(1522–66), women’s hairstyles changed significantly. The Taoxinji/桃心髻 was a fashionable hairstyle at that time. The hair was combed into an oblate shape, and the top decorated with flowers. Later, it evolved into a filigree knot, with the hair combed high & the dome decorated with precious jewels. The hairstyle had many variations as well. Below – Taoxinji in the Chinese TV series Dream of the Red Chamber:
Another popular Ming hairstyle was the
Diji/狄髻, a small wig-hat in the shape of a pyramid & decorated with ornaments:
The Diji developed from the special hairstyles and crowns of the Song, and was worn
by married women for formal occasions during the Ming. It was often made of silver wire, gold wire, horsetail, silk, hair, paper, fabric, etc. The outside was usually covered with black yarn, which was shaped like a cone and covered the hair on top of the head. A large variety of jewelry could be attached to the hat, the number depending on occasion and preference. For more examples, please see my Diji tag.
Mo’e/抹额 were forehead/hair bands that originated from the Spring and Autumn/Warring States periods, and were most popular during the Ming dynasty. Women wrapped the bands around their forehead, and the fabric in front was usually decorated with embroideries and/or jewels. Below – Mo’e in Dream of the Red Chamber:
Finally, we can’t discuss Ming dynasty hairstyles without mentioning the gorgeous Fengguan/凤冠 (phoenix crown) worn by Ming noblewomen for ceremonies and formal occasions. It was also the traditional headwear for Ming brides (including common-folk):
Fengguan were adorned with a variety of ornaments: phoenixes made of inlaid kingfisher feathers, as well as gold dragons, beaded pheasants, pearls, and other gemstones. The numbers of phoenixes, dragons, and precious gems on each crown was different, depending on rank. For more examples, please see my Fengguan tag.
Of course, there are a lot more Ming women’s hairstyles that I haven’t covered, but this does describe some of the most popular and iconic Ming styles. For more references, please check out my Ming Dynasty tag.
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! ^^