In Chinese costume dramas, we always see those beauties wearing delicate ornaments, without knowing their names. Today let me illustrate the Chinese ancient hair ornaments.
Ji primitive hairpin
Ji dates back to Neolithic Age. It was used for securing bun or hat as well as for meeting some needs of etiquette.
The materials for making Ji included bone, jade, pottery, clamshell, and etc. And Ji was even made of copper in the Shang dynasty. It was usually in the shape of cone, “T” or cylinder and etc. Some of Ji were inlaid with bone beads while some were engraved with decorative patterns.
In the Zhou Dynasty, people regardless of gender all used Ji. The Ji used by males for securing hat is called Henji(transverse Ji).
Zan-hairpin evolving from Ji and having a single pin
Zan was used for securing bun or acted as an ornament for bun. Zan usually came with a single pin. In addition to be an ornament, Zan was also regarded as a token of love as a poet wrote, “at dusk the cloud in Autumn is dark. The river is limpid and deep. What can be used for communications? It’s the Zan of turtle shell engraved with lotus.”
Zan evolved from Ji. The head of Zan is usually decorated with patterns like birds, beasts, flowers, plants, insects and fish, and inlaid with gold, silver, jade, pearl, gem and etc..
Chai-hairpin with double or multiple pins
Chai is an ornament made collectively with pearl, jade, gold and silver in the shape of flower or other pattern. Chai has double or multiple pins which are pinned into bun for securing it. In ancient China, females were also called “Qun Chai(dress chai)” or “Jin Chai(gold chai)”. The difference between Zan and Chai lies in pin’s number. Zan has a single pin while Chai has double or multiple pins.
Generally in the shape of Chinese character “一”，Bianfang is a special large-sized hairpin used when Manchu women made the banner hairstyle. Some Bianfang ornaments used for making “Dalachi hairstyle” in the court of the late Qing Dynasty are as long as two cuns(1 cun= 1 / 3 decimetre). Some of jade Bianfang ornaments in Qing Imperial Palace are virid like water while some are inlaid with auspicious patterns such as gold, silver, Chinese character “寿” meaning longevity, flower bunch and bats. This Bianfang made of precious jade is usually worn by penetrating the bun transversely pinned with flat Zan. The strong hue contrast between emerald jade and black hair can form a special beauty.
Comb and Bi
Comb and Bi are collectively referred to as Zhi which is one of eight Chinese ancient hair ornaments. “Zhi(comb) is the general name for comb and double-edged fine-toothed comb”, said Xu Shen from the Han Dynasty in his work Interpretation of Chinese Characters. The Interpretation . Mu Radical wrote, “Comb is used for arranging hair”, and “Zhi(comb) is the general name for comb and Bi(double-edged fine-toothed comb)”. Duan Yucai noted, “The sparse-toothed one is comb while the fine-toothed one is Bi”. “white like snow and smooth like moss, accompanying comb and mirror, the white Bi is used for whisking off dirt.”,wrote Louyin from the Tang Dynasty in his poem White Bi. Taogu from the Northern Song Dynasty wrote in his essay collection Qing Yi Lu, “Once upon a time, there was a rich juvenile sensualist called Cui Yuqing in Luoyang who had people make a coloful ivory comb for a prostitute called Yurunzi, which cost him a large amount of money.” Wearing hair long prevailed in ancient times. Comb and Bi are necessities for combing hair every day. Comb with sparse teeth is used for combing hair; Bi with fine teeth is used for getting rid of hair’s dirt so that hair can be kept clean without lice, making people radiant. In addition to be used as hair ornament, comb and Bi can also stimulate scalp neuron, thus enhance metabolism and prolong life,
It’s also called “花胜 Huasheng” meaning floral hair ornament. It’s a kind of floral ornament for women in ancient times. “The ‘华’ of ‘华胜’ means being shaped like flowers or grasses; ‘胜’ means having a beautiful appearance. One who wears it will look beautiful.It’s worn in the hair above the middle of forehead as an ornament” The Book of Han · Biography of Sima Xiangru Vol. 2 said, “She lives in a cave, wearing Huasheng in her snow-white hair.”Yan Shigu from the Tang Dynasty noted,” ‘胜’ is referred to as women’s ornament; it’s known as Huasheng in the Han Dynasty.” “On the Human Day(7th day of the 1st lunar month)……Women make Huasheng ornaments to give as gifts while scholars climb to an elevation for composing poems.”, wrote Zong Lin from Kingdom Of Liang of the Southern Dynasties in his Record of Festival Customs in the Jingchu District.
Huasheng means gorgeous hair ornament. The passages in the Journey to the West writing about what the Queen of Heaven looks like are as follows: She wears a huasheng in her hair and decorative patterns in the shape of tiger. Two immortals including a female and a male are waiting upon her on her left and right respectively. The numerous jewellery-decorated hoods add radiance and beauty to each other. The feather fans held by fairy maidens covered the courtyard. Under the balustrade are the trees with white halos, forming a firm grove. The jade-like trunks are nearly 3 kilometres in height, with their dark green branches and leaves growing in the sky. Without wind, the trees can also make the fantastic melody which is usually solemnly played when a salute is made. Shenzhou is in the southeast of Kunlun, so the Chinese dictionary Er Ya said, “it’s exactly under the nose of Queen of Heaven.” It also said, “The Queen of Heaven is wearing Huasheng in her fluffy hair. The one who has protruding teeth and is good at fluting, is an envoy of Queen of Heaven. The white tiger goddess in the west isn’t the real Queen of Heaven.”
It’s an ornament name. It’s a small hairpin usually pinned into hair on the temples. Ma Gao from the Five Dynasties wrote in his Commentaries on Antiquity and Today of China·Hood Duozi and Fan, “Hood has appeared since the period reined by the first Emperor of Qin. When serving the emperor, the concubines were required to wear lotus-like hood in summer made of bluish green silk, to pin colorful pedant Duozi, to drape light yellow silk clothes over shoulders, to hold a fan made of mica bamboo and to wear shoes decorated with phoenix on the toe cap.” Fang Yizhi from the Qing Dynasty wrote in his Tongya · Clothing, “Duozi is a kind of ornament.” “Hood originated from the period reined by the first Emperor of Qin, and the lotus-like hood and colorful pedant Duozi concubines are wearing, are all hair ornaments”, said the Commentaries on Antiquity and Today.
Mo’e-cloth hair ornament
Mo’e is also called forehead band, head band, hair band, brow band and head wrapper. It’s a cloth ornament bounden on the forehead, generally decorated with embroidery or jewellery. Mo’e was invented by the northern minorities originally for warding off the cold. The Sequel to Book of Han · Record of Vehicle and Clothing noted what Huguang said, “It’s very cold in the north, so people there warm forehead by the fur band, attached to hat and evolving into an ornament. This is the origin of Mo’e.” It’s also called “Motou” meaning the cloth bounden on the forehead. “wearing red Mo’e”, said the New Book of Tang · Biography of Lou Shide. “The raw silk fabric used for covering forehead, is today’s Mo’e.”, said the book Xi Shang Fu Tan. As for Song defenders’ clothing, instructors wore black gauze cap and red Mo’e, while archery checkers wore black gauze cap with two long bands behind and purple Mo’e. The Mo’es wrapped around head is made of red or purple silk fabric.
Buyao- hairpin dangling when wearer walks
It’s a kind of hair ornament for women in ancient times. It is because this hairpin dangles with wearer’s step that it is called Buyao. It’s generally made of gold in the shape of dragon or phoenix and etc., decorated with jewellery. After the Six Dynasties, its pattern had been diversified with birds, beasts, flowers ,branches and so on, sparkling and dazzling. It was pinned in the hair together with other hairpins. The famous Chinese book Glossary . Interpretations of Ornaments said, “Buyao, decorated with drooping beads, dangles when its wearer walks.” The Book of the Later Han. Vehicle and Clothing Vol. 2 said, “Buyao is designed with one peacock and nine flowers, with its pedestal made of gold and white beads strung as interlaced ornament.” The Chinese scholar Wang Xianqian quoted Chen Xiangdao in his Collected Annotations as saying, “Shaped into a golden phoenix and decorated with colorful drooping jade, with pedestal in the bottom and pin in the front, the Buyao in the Han Dynasty dangles when its wearer walks.” The poet Bai Juyi from Tang Dynasty wrote in his poem Everlasting Regret, “Thick hair, beautiful countenance and golden dangling Buyao.” The writer Xie Yi from the Northern Song wrote in his poem Die Lian Hua, “The hair-securing Buyao is made of sapphire. Bees are attracted to flying among its petals. ”
The Book of Han · Biography of Jiangchong said, “Jiangchong is wearing thin silk clothes with curving parts drooping and interlacing in the rear, wearing silk Buyao hood and tying Feihe’s ribbons.” The Book of Jin · Record of Murong Wei said, “People generally wore Buyao hood in the Kingdoms of Yan and Dai.” Mo Huba liked hood at first sight and then bound up his hair and wore the hood which was called Buyao by his bribes. Finally the surname Murong was derived from Buyao. ”
Jinguo is a kind of ornament in ancient times. It’s as broad as a hat and conspicuous with its towering height. Jinguo is made by wrapping around wire or thin bamboo or wood chips which is(are) woven into various patterns, with a long colorful cloth . This kind of head ornament is worn on head, covering the forehead, surrounding the hair, with its drooping bands on both sides knotted on the nape. It is neither a hairstyle nor a hood. At any time, it can be taken off (like taking off a hat ) and put on(just by tying the bands on both sides.) In the Pre-Qin period, both males and females wore Jinguo as an ornament. Not until Han Dynasty was it exclusively used by women.