Traditional metal sculpturing methods such as grinding, machining and milling are known as subtractive metal manufacturing. Metal 3D printing however, is additive metal manufacturing. By layering the material to slowly form the complete shape of the design, it magnificently saves metal material.
While we have seldom heard about metal printing, it is actually been used in many areas such as space exploration, aerospace, and healthcare. For example:(see also : renishaw.com)
“In space exploration, for example, industry leaders such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and NASA have fully embraced metal 3D printing as a way to produce rocket ship parts that have drastically lowered costs while highly improving performance. SpaceX, for example, relied heavily on the custom metal parts for the combustion chamber of the SpaceX SuperDraco engine.
NASA was able to develop a turbopump for their rocket engine that was put together with 45 percent fewer parts than pumps made through conventional manufacturing processes. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before an entire rocket engine is capable of being 3D printed.”(from TechCrunch, last access 9th Feb 2017)
As the trend grows, metal printing would be more prevalent and the cost for it is very likely to reduce further in the future. As such, metal 3D printing can be a possible way to cut cost and save materials.
Beside the conventional way of sanding surface of 3D printed parts with sand paper or sanding machines(large or handhold turning machine), there is an alternative way–Bead blasting, or bead abrasive blasting, sand blasting.
What is sandblasting and why is it used?
“Sandblasting is an effective cleaning process for hard surfaces with the use of high pressure air. The sandblasting method can be used for smoothing, shaping and cleaning hard surfaces, debarring, blending and stress relieving of any part that is hard. This process also removes slag, rust, and imperfections in steel as a preparation for various coatings. The effect of sandblasting is similar to that of using sandpaper, but provides a more even finish.
Where is Sandblasting used?
The sandblasting process can be used effectively on steel, iron, copper, brass, aluminum and glass. Sandblasting can be used to clean up fabricated parts, structural steel, castings, pipes (inside and out) pipe fittings, auto body parts and machine parts. This process can also be used on new materials to remove rust, paints, stains and glues. Sand blasting works for automotive restoration. It helps avoid a lot of hard labor, especially when working with deeply convoluted surfaces like a rusty wheel rim.”(from CompetitiveEdgeCoating ;ast access 9th Feb 2017)
What is Glass Bead Blasting?
“Glass bead blasting is a metal cleaning process that creates a clean, bright, uniform matte texture. The glass beads are applied to a surface using low air pressure. This process removes paint, rust and corrosion from all types of metals, from autos, trucks, equipment, machinery engine blocks, heads and intakes. Using the bead blasting process a surface can be cleaned without any damage. The beads come in a variety of sizes. The smaller the glass beads, the smoother the surface, larger beads produce a more textured finish.
Where is Glass Bead Blasting used?
Glass Bead blasting can be used on a wide range of materials including aluminum, stainless steel, copper, steel, brass, titanium, sterling silver, bronze, metal, glass, plastic and rubber. It can be used in the restoration processes of cars and trucks. Glass bead blasting is also an effective cleaning process on equipment, machinery engine blocks, heads and intakes. Bead blasting is a low cost process and can be used on decorative parts including: custom auto parts and custom motorcycle parts.” (from CompetitiveEdgeCoating last access 9th Feb 2017)
Bead blasting is not necessarily manual. It can be done automatically with machines. (Guyson.com last access 9th Feb 2017)
https://youtu.be/3sMhRP3Awnw from Youtube Channel Jeffrey Santo
posted on 3rd April 2013
last access 9th Feb 2017
here is another video showing automated sandblasting machine for glass frames, which can relate to jewelries
from Youtube Channel norblastsrl, posted on 5th April 2016, last access 9th Feb 2017
Phoenix(凤凰feng huang) are a mythological birds in Chinese history that reign over other birds.
Originally, Feng Huang are two different birds of same breed. Feng is the male and Huang is the female. Later, during Yuan Dynasty, the two words are combined to one Fenghuang as the king of birds. As the image of dragon is slowly accepted to describe male emperor,phoenix is then used to portray females empresses.
5 types of phoenix: 五凤
太史令蔡衡曰：凡像凤者有五色，多赤者凤，多青者鸾，多黄者鵷雏，多紫者鸑鷟，多白者鸿鹄－ref 夜航船 卷十七 四灵部 by 张岱 http://guji.artx.cn/article/28345.html?key=%E4%BA%94%E8%89%B2%E8%80%8C%E8%B5%A4%E8%80%85
“There are 5 types of bird look like phoenix:
With feather mainly in scarlet, it is a phoenix凤,
mainly in Blue, it is a Luan鸾
mainly in yellow, it is a Yuan Chu鵷雏
mainly in purple, it is a Yue Zhuo鸑鷟
mainly in white, it is a Hong Hu 鸿鹄 ”
In fact they are all categorized under phoenix, but only the scarlet phoenix is of the highest status and purest of them all.
There is other version of explanation regarding the types of phoenix. From <Classic of mountain and Sea>:There are three multicolored birds, one is Huang皇, one is Luan鸾, one is Feng凤 .《山海经》曰：有五采鸟三名，一曰皇鸟，一曰鸾鸟，一曰凤鸟。
Some versions say that Luan鸾 is actually the same breed with 凤 feng and 凰 huang, just it is not an adult bird. As Luan grows up, it will become Feng or Huang. Nevertheless, all these are fairy tales and there isn’t a scientific way to verify as they are made up of people’s imagination.
Here come back to my jewelries. I need to decide which bird to depict on each jewelry:
Choker as Queen Consort/Empress Consort–one bird 皇后
Ring as Imperial Noble Consort–one bird 皇贵妃
Cuff as Consort–4 birds 妃
Spectacle chain as Dame-6 birds 嫔
Necklace pendant as Noble Lady-feather/wing 贵人
Hairpin as Xiunv-feather 秀女
There is no doubt that phoenix will be depicting Queen Consort皇后.
As for Imperial Noble Consort皇贵妃, since it is also a single bird, there must be a different meaning of the bird, which is why I research on the breed of phoenix. The position of Imperial Noble Consort is very close to Queen Consort, as such choosing a breed of phoenix that is inferior than pure phoenix would be ideal. However, if the phoenix only varies by colors, it is pretty difficult to reflect in the jewelry as the material would most likely be in the same color(unless adding crystals). I realize among the 5 breeds of phoenix, the white-color breed, 鸿鹄 hong hu, has both mythological meaning and daily-life meaning. the rest 3 breeds: 鸾luan，鵷雏yuan chu ， 鸑鷟yue zhuo are seldom heard nowadays and probably most Chinese cannot even read the words. 鸿鹄 Hong Hu can be explained as the type of bird that fly very high and very far, such as eagle, Dayan, swan, crane. It is in modern context used to describe people with great ambitions. There is one idiom as 燕雀安知鸿鹄之志(How can swallows and sparrows understand the ambition of a Hong Hu), means “How can a common fellow read the mind of a great man?” As such, it is very suitable to use the bird hong hu on Imperial Noble Consort because she has the great ambition to defeat substitute the current Queen Consort.
4 birds are used for the cuff as Consort妃. As it comes down to consort, the bird is less prestigious. The first bird came into my mind is peacock. Why? Because usually the 4 consorts are always openly or secretly competing with each other, on who is the prettiest, who wears the most luxuries, or who are more favored by the emperor. It is just like peacocks showing of their feather and attracting the opposite sex. Although the fanned peacocks are males in nature, this metaphor is still applicable to the consorts and their jealousy.
Fun fact:Cuckoos have various strategies for getting their egg into a host nest. Different species use different strategies based on host defensive strategies. Female cuckoos have secretive and fast laying behaviors, but in some cases, males have been shown to lure host adults away from their nests so that the female can lay her egg in the nest. Some host species may directly try to prevent cuckoos laying eggs in their nest in the first place – birds whose nests are at high risk of cuckoo-contamination are known to ‘mob’ cuckoos to drive them out of the area. Parasitic cuckoos are grouped into gentes, with each gens specializing in a particular host. There is some evidence that the gentes are genetically different from one another.
Noble Lady-unlimited vacancies, Thus I would only use wings in the necklace pendant. Wings means they are at a position to get ready to depart to a higher status. They are polishing themselves to get ready in the game.
Last but no least, Xiunv as a hair pin. Xiunv are merely the candidates for the beauty pageant. Their status is low and they might not end up the Emperor’s concubine. So their fate is unpredictable. I would like to use feather to depict them as feather is the most common thing in birds and it can be found in any bird. Whether it is a feather of phoenix or a feather of sparrow, depends on fate and their effort. Also, the shape of feather is coherent to the shape of hair pin, which makes it easier for the design process.
To depict each breed of bird, I am not going to design in a very realistic way. The birds are just references to give each piece of jewelry better meaning.
Here comes the Chinese New Year, and luxury brands never fail to seize the opportunity to have some limited editions. It is a trend because Chinese culture has increasing status as China economy and global influence getting stronger.
It is fascinating to see how foreigners understand Chinese culture, although I do not know if there are Chinese designers in the design team, the limited editions certainly bring new aspects to the Chinese zodiacs. Some of them did a great job from a Chinese perspective; others might need to understand more about the concept. Let us now look at the products for the year of CHICKEN. The comments I make are not mean to be offensive.
Dior has Chinese Zodiac bracelet every year. I am not sure what horrible thing the chicken is staring at because she looks stunned to me. But this is not so bd compared to the monkey, dragon and snake.
When you look into the eyes of the dragon…Maybe it is a dragon baby?
It seems alright until you see the cover
The cover remains the same for the limited edition each year, only the pattern on the foundation changes. So after u finish using the foundation, you can’t tell which box if for what zodiac anymore. In addition, the “福” character on the cover is in a not so enticing font. It looks like taken from Microsoft word…
This is how the price of a foundation pack triples…
It is a low-profile to celebrate the year of Chicken.
The two roosters in the front reminds me of the ancient pass-time cockfighting. I can’t decide whether is the rooster makes the brand more special or the brand makes the roosters more special…I don’t find the jacket ugly but I personally don’t find it that persuasive to me neither…Maybe seeing the real product will have bonus points from the craftsmanship or the intricacy.
Burberry checked scarf is a very classic product. The Chinese calligraphy style “福” instantly makes it elderly-friendly. But at the same time, not so youth-friendly…Probably because of the style of the character.
At first I though it is a bladder or a heart(as an organ). Then I realize it’s designers’ effort to make it a heart shape yet cute at same time.
The color is pretty hard to pull of though. If not match well can become a rural auntie from Northeast China village.
The embroidery used to be a bee, now becomes a chicken for the CNY.
The face of the chicken(or owl?) certainly brights up my day.
發huat and 福fortune are auspicious wished individually. However, when combine together发福 it means getting fat/gaining weight..So…
Here are the more pleasant example of the designs.
First Vans shoe design took inspiration from eggs and roosters respectively, and incorporate the colors into shoes.
Second design is a Gucci key chain.
Third design is a scarf by Salvatore Ferragamo
Fourth is a Piaget wrist watch.
The eight blossoms symbolize auspicious number 8 in Chinese culture, which sounds like Fa(huat).
incorporating LED to jewelry can add the elements of surprise and the uniqueness of the design. However, there might be the risk of making the jewelry into Halloween costume decoration. The design and the choice o color is very important.
take note above us a self-construct simple LED jewelry kit, which means it is possible to hide everything at the back of such a small piece of jewelry.
of course the amazing Zac Posen dress that stunned everyone(with and without light) at MET gala 2016:
“The secret to her magical touch? Richard applies luminous phosphorescent paint to each piece, which creates a turquoise glow when ‘charged’. The phosphorescent paint is charged by being held under a lamp for a few minutes or in the sun for a few hours.”
If this paint can be used, it solves the problem of hiding battery and wire, reducing the bulkiness of the product, and the lighting parts can be more specifically chosen and drawn.
There are many different types of materials for 3D printing, each has its owe characteristics, pros and cons. Here are some of the more common options:
-Also called White, strong & flexible/ Durable plastic/ White plastic
-Strong and flexible plastic
-1mm minimum wall thickness
-Naturally white, but you can get it colored
-About 10 layers per 1mm
-Made from powder
-Alumide=Polyamide + Aluminum
-Interlocking, moving parts possible
-Strong plastic like legos are
-Made from spaghetti like filament
-Many color options
-about 3 layers per 1mm
-1mm minimum wall thickness
-Also called White resin, Black resin, Transparent detail/ White deail resin/ High detail resin, Transparent resin, Paintable Resin
-Rigid and a bit delicate
-Liquid Photopolymer cured with UV light
-White, black & transparent most typical colors
-About 10 layers per 1mm
-1mm minimum wall thickness
-Very strong material
-Made with multiple steps or from powder directly
-Coloring options like gold and bronze plating
-About 6 layers per 1mm
-3mm minimum wall thickness
Gold & Silver
-Made from wax and then casted/processed in powder form
-About 10 layers per 1mm
–0.5mm minimum wall thickness
-Direct metal laser sintering
-About 30 layers per 1mm
-o.2mm minimum wall thickness
*note: sintering is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heating or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction(lose strength and behave like a liquid). Sintering happens naturally in mineral deposits or as a manufacturing process used with metals, ceramics, plastics, and other materials.
-Rigid & delicate
-First ceramic is printed then surface is glazed
-Ceramic White, glaze typically white
-About 6 layers per 1mm
-3mm minimum wall thickness
-After printing , firing and glazing is still required
-Also called Sandstone/ Rainbow ceramics/ Multicolor
-Rigid & delicate made from powder
-Naturally white, but you can get it with colors
-About 10 layers per 1mm
-2mm minimum wall thickness
Other materials includes Laywood, PLA, Aluminium and Cobalt derivstives(industrial grade 3D printing), and even paper.
For my jewelry product, it is obvious that metals are the best material for the appearance. They are strong and can be made into intricate designs as the minimum thickness is comparably small, and the layers per 1mm is comparably large.
However, in ADM, metal 3D printing is currently unavailable. As such, I would carry out my modelling in alternative material available that is best suitable to present my design.
Another aspect is the cost of the printing. Using silver and gold can be costly, and resulting in the high retail price of the product. Stainless steel is lower in cost, but the product would be more rigid.
CNC is also possible. As far as I know, ADM have metal cnc.
I collected some images to inspire my own design, these designs are all 3D printed.
The use of repeated or similar pattern can save the time during CAD as well as create visual rhythm.
The above two designs have some gestures and patterns that I can relate to my project. Moreover, the shape of the deer necklace can be a direction how I am gonna construct my Qitou necklace.
Adding dangling elements in the design.
The arm cuff below, by Arm De L’amour, suggest that bracelet/bangle can be used as arm cuff as well. I have bought this piece from outnet.com 2 years ago, BUT I couldn’t find it at the moment.. The design reminds me of Chinese windows and wooden structures.
Pandora also gives me the idea that the flexibility of a pendant. I mentioned in my previous post that I wantto make pendant for the non-important characters in the story. In fact the pendant can be used as earrings as well. Pandora allows people to mix and match the pendants with necklace chain or earring hooks. I can use this method as well to make the jewelry more versatile and flexible. Personally I would want something that can be worn as both necklace and earrings.
This idea is also used in Cartier high jewelry:
The huge pear shape diamond can be taken down and alternate between the necklace and the ring.
This article will be briefly divided into the story if Cixi, and the development of Qing hairstyle. However, I could not find resources that clearly linked Cixi’s ranking with her hair style or accessory changes..So you may want to skip the lengthy text of Cixi story if you are just interested in the development of hairstyle.
Empress Dowager Cixi, of Manchu Yehenara clan, was a Chinese Empress Dowager and regent who effectively controlled the Chinese government in the late Qing Dynasty for 47 years, from 1861 until her death in 1908.
She was selected as an imperial concubine of Emperor Xianfeng (reign 1850-1861) in her adolescence. She gave birth to a son, Zaichun in 1856, who later became Emperor Tongzhi(reign 1861-1875) after the death of Emperor Xianfeng, and she thus became the Empress Dowager. Cixi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed regency, which she shared with Empress Dowager Ci’an(The Empress Consort of Xianfeng). After the death of Emperor Tongzhi in 1874, Cixi and Ci’an continue to attend and monitor state affairs behind the screen(Chinese Custom for Empress Dowager to guide young Emperors) for the new Emperor Guangxu(reign 1875-1908).1881, Empress Dowager Ci’an passed away, Cixi thus became the only Empress Dowager who is controlling the emperor.
In 1898, Emperor Guangxu and Xici had conflicts over the Hundred Days’ Reform, Cixi rejected the, as detrimental to dynastic power and placed Emperor Guangxu under house arrest for supporting radical reformers. Since then, Cixi became the only authority in the court. Although Cixi’s main intention is to protect his country and the Qing Dynasty, she has underestimated the power of foreign invasion and have compromised too much to keep the vulnerable peace. China was on the phase of changing from Dynastic reign to modern China, politics became very complicated and western countries was aiming at China. 1900, the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded Beijing, Cixi together with Emperor Guangxu, escaped to Xi’an. Cixi attempted to create new reform campaign. in 1908, Cixi passed away in Beijing, one day after the death of Emperor Guangxu.
1851: 秀女Xiunv, the contestant for beauty pageant selecting Emperor Xianfeng’s concubines.
1852: 贵人Noble Lady, Sixth Pin, in the nine ranking system. She was given the title “Noble Lady Lan”. Among other chosen candidates were Noble Lady Li of the Tatala clan(Later Consort Li), and Concubine Zhen of the Niohuru clan(later Emperor Xianfeng’s Empress Consort).
1854, 懿嫔 Dame Yi, or Imperial concubine Yi. fifth Pin, one rank higher than Noble lady.
1856, 懿妃 Consort Yi, fourth rank, one rank higher than Dame. She was elevated to this position after giving birth to Zaichun, Emperor Xianfeng’s only surviving son, on 27th April 1856.
1857, 懿贵妃Noble Consort Yi, the rank placed her only second to the Empress Consort among the women within Emperor Xianfeng’s household. Unlike many of the other Manchu women in the imperial hosuehold, Cixi was known for her ability to read and write Chinese. This skill granted her numerous opportunities to help the ailing emperor in the governing states affairs in daily basis. Occasionally, Emperor Xianfeng had Cixi read palace memorials for him and leave instructions on the memorials according to his will. As a result, Cixi became well-informed about state affairs and the art of governing from the ailing emperor.
1861, 圣母皇太后Empress Dowager Cixi. After the death of Emperor Xianfeng in 1861, Cixi’s son Zaichun, Emperor Xianfeng’s only son, ascend to throne and became the new Emperor Tongzhi. As she is the birth mother of the Emperor, she is regarded as Empress Dowager, together with Xianfeng’s Empress Consort Ci’an, who became Empress Dowager Ci’an慈安太后. Both Empress Dowagers are to cooperate in harmony and help the young Emperor to grow and mature together, according to Xianfeng’s wish. Xianfeng also appointed “Eight Regent Minister” to direct and support the future Emperor. However, tensions between the two Empress Dowagers grow as time passes by, and in the competition of power.
1874, Emperor Tongzhi passed away, Cixi appointed the new emperor Guangxu光绪皇帝. Empress Dowager Ci’an passed away in 1881.
1898, 慈禧太后Empress Dowager Cixi. Cixi put Emperor Guangxu under house arrest after his attempt to push Hundred Days’ Reform. After which, Xici became the supreme power of Qing government and started her monopoly. Although from the title of “Empress Dowager”, it did not change since 1861, her power increased greatly after her ‘co-worker’ Ci’an’s death and the house arrest of Guangxu.
As we can see from the chronicle, Xici’s status in the imperial household rose extremely fast. In ten years(1851-1861), she was elevated from a xiunv with no rank, to Empress Dowager, the highest position for women in Qing Dynasty system.
However, Cixi lived in a socially unstable period of time in Chinese History, Qing Dynastic power was threatened and interfered by western invaders as well as the reformers within China. The title of Empress Dowager became less powerful as political situation changed. Qing court was under a series of unequal treaty with foreign countries, and has became a puppet regime.
Compared to Wuzetianhttps://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/tzhao002/emperors-wife-hierarchy-part-1-wu-zetian/, Cixi was at a time that China has declined power, while Wu Zetian was building a stronger nation. Both are of equal status by name, however in real, Xici was not as powerful in international aspect. 1905 AD, Sun Zhongshan and his peers established Zhonghua Minguo(Republic of China). Qing Dynasty ended in 1912, with its last emperor Puyi.
Now let’s look at the accessories of Qing Dynasty.
Cixi, like any other girl, pay a lot of attention on her grooming. Even at older age, she still indulged in dolling up herself. Cixi lived in late Qing Dynasty, compared to early Qing, China became much wealthier after Qianlong’s reign(1735-1796). Thus in late Qing Dynasty, the accessories, especially for imperial household, were more luxurious and flamboyant.
One popular hairstyle during Qing Dynasty is 两把头Two Side Bun. This hair style is demure and convenient to incorporate hair accessories onto it. This hairstyle splits hair to two sides, then bun up at the top of the head.
However, as China became wealtheir in mid Qing Dynasty, under Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the original small two side bun is insufficient for women to pile up all kinds of jewelries on their heads. The hair bun became fragile and would collapse at one touch. Thus, a new type of hair accessory emerged–扁方bian fang.
Bianfang is like a very long 簪zan(hair pin), and its flat in shape. Women used Bianfang to bun the excessive hair that could not hold the weight of accessories or the weight of hair itself. It upports the hair and allow more accessories to be added on.
Bianfang is a reflection of status in Qing Dynasty. It is also a symbol of becoming an adult for girls back then, just like 笄ji. Different occasions requires different types of Bianfang, people pf different background wears differently as well.
For example, during funerals wife mourning for her husband, she needs to style her hair in a very loose and effortless way, with a small bone bianfang on her hair. If it is the funeral for father or mother in law, then the woman should place a silver or white copper bianfang horizontally on her head.
For royals and rich families, the material and design of bianfang can be very precious and exquisite. Emperor’s concubines and other noble ladies would purposely reveal the two ends of bianfang, as that is the most elaborated part, to attract attention. Sometimes there will be tassels at the ends of bianfang. Wearing bianfang restricts the movements of head, neck, and shoulder, together with cheongsam and elevated shoes, making the ladies look very demure when walking.
For Manchu girls, the symbolic hairstyle, as we can see from many dramas and movies, is 旗头 Qi Tou, direct translate as flag head.
Interestingly, the elaborated, exaggerated Qi Tou is only developed at the very late stage of Qing Dynasty, after the death of Emperor Xianfeng(the husband of Cixi). Before that, hairstyle was kept simple and small, at special occasions Empress and other imperial household ladies would wear some Chai or the most, 钿子Dianzi.
Women would decorate with some hair accessories such as chai钗 and some flowers. As Bianfang helps to stabilize, there was a trend that more accessories were put onto hair. However, it got out of control as all ladies wanted to show off and be pretty. It went until the extend that Emperor Xianfeng had to officially gave an instruction to the ladies in the Forbidden City that the dressing code should be simple and non-exaggerated, maximum of only two flowers can be worn on hair. If three is worn, there will be punishment accordingly. Xianfeng believed that it is a good tradition and culture to be thrifty even in imperial families. As such, the hairstyle was not out of control at Xianfeng’s reign.
However, after Emperor Xianfeng passed away, the fashions and pursuit of hair started again
And to satisfy their ego and ambition of piling up hair accessories, the Qi Tou became larger and larger.
And it became SOOOOO big that real hair could not satisfy the appetite. So, what the ladies did is, instead of using real hair, they just simply put a black board on the hair bun, to substitute real hair, holding more and more accessories.
as we can see from the above image, Qi Tou has developed to such a exaggerated stage, almost like someone from Beking Opera.
Although Emperor Xianfeng has regulated the use of hair accessories, Cixi herself was a girl that pay a lot of attention to grooming, and I guess that is why after Xianfeng’s death, Cixi came into power and she probably brought back all the fashion and trend of dolling up. As a saying I read somewhere, in hereditary monarchy, where one person has the monopoly, the character of the person is the character of the nation. So I guess Cixi more or less is responsible the development of Qi Tou..
One bizarre thing, although Qi Tou looks so flamboyant and so showing-off, it is actually not restricted to social status. Because in Chinese Manchu tradition,Qi Tou is a casual hairstyle, and should be worn with only casual dress.No matter what social status you are, you can wear it. For formal occassions, ladies should wear Dianzi 钿子 as shown earlier. However, the influence of western culture diluted many of Chinese traditions and Cixi herself sometimes would ‘mix-match’ Dianzi with casual dress, (intentionally or unintentionally we are not sure), and Qi Tou could be seen as a more fashionable accessories, so end up the tradition was not strictly followed. It is said that Qi Tou was seen with formal dress in late Qing Dnasty as well. At the point of time, I guess all the traditions and customs are interrupted by the complicated political situation and people’s pursuit of new things.
What we can say is, for sure, people of better wealth and status are able to afford better hair accessories with more precious material, like gold, high quality jade, ruby, pearls, etc. Empress Dowagers and Empress Consort are able to wear phoenix pattern, abundant of gold, while commoners or abandoned concubines simply couldn’t afford.
The hierarchy of Emperor’s wife can be very complicated across Chinese History. During different Dynasties,the titles of the hierarchy can be very different. Some Dynasties have very sophisticated rankings and categories while others have simplified systems. The rankings of the wives can be equal to political status in the Imperial Court, although they are not allowed to interfere political affairs. Different rankings receives different salaries, daily supplies, accommodations, and the number of servant, etc. And of course, their attire and accessories can be quite different.
Speaking of the most famous women that rise from bottom to the top in power, there are only few to take note on, and each of them are from different dynasties. In fact many Chinese Dramas and movies have depicted their stories, with some imaginations and fantasies. There is one thing we need bear in mind, that all the stories we know about ancient Chinese and stories are derived from historical documentations, which is very limited and simplified in ancient Chinese language. A story can be as short as one sentence. So there are a lot of guessing, imagination, and ‘retouching’ on that one sentence to give an intriguing and complete story. We can only say that historians are trying their best to stick to the truth of history, but no one can be 100% sure about what happened in details hundreds thousands years ago.
What I believe is, art creation itself demands imagination and innovation. It is not a textbook for history student or scholars. As long as it does not go against the overall history, a little bit of ‘retouching’ can add fun to the design. Just like no movie is completely real even it says ‘based on a true story’. With this idea in mind, let’s look at the few famous women that rose from bottom to top power(as the emperor’s wife)–Wu Zetian(The Chinese Empress) and Cixi, the Empress Dowager. I chose these two women because they are no doubt the most famous two ladies, and their stories happened during Tang Dynasty and Qing Dynasty respectively, where the system for choosing the wives of Emperor are comparably refined. In addition, both of them not only rose to the top position for women but also, their power was higher than men at then.
The Story of Wu Zetian 武则天
Wu Zetian is also known as the Empress Consort Wu, Empress Wu, was a Chinese sovereign who ruled unofficially as empress consort and empress dowager and later, officially as Empress Regnant during the brief Zhou Dynasty(684-705), which interrupted the Tang Dynasty(618-690&705-907). Wu was the only Empress Regnant of China in more than four millennia.
She was the concubine of Emperor Taizong(reign 626-649)。 After his death, she married his succesor-his ninth son, Emperor Gaozong(reign 649-683), later officially became Gaozong’s Empress Consort(皇后),The highest ranking of all the wives, in 655. She had considerable political power even prior to her Empress Consort title. After Gaozong’s debilitating stroke in 660, Wu Zetian became administrator of the Court, a position equal as Emperor, until 705.
Her rankings and titles through out the years:
Wu Zetian was born in a rich family, in 624 AD
才人Cairen:637 AD, 14 years old, became the concubine of Taizong, title 才人 cairen, ranking of one of consorts with the fifth rank(五品 fifth Pin) in Tang’s nine-rank system for Imperial officials, nobles, and consorts.
Buddhist Nun: Emperor Taizong died in 649, while Wu did not have any son of his, she had to be permanently confined to a monastic institute after emperor’s death, according to Tang’s custom.
昭仪 Zhaoyi：652 AD, Wu was 27 years old. The son of Gaozong, who became the Emperor after his father’s death, decided to bring Wu back to the palace as his concubine(Although Gaozong was effectively Wu’s step–son) and gave her the title of Zhaoyi, which is the highest ranking of thenine concubines of second rank(二品2nd Pin). Wu progressly gained more and more influence over the governance of the empire throughout Emperor Gaozong’s reign, and eventually she effectively was making the major decisions. She was regarded as ruthless in her endeavors to grab power and was believed even to have killed her own daughter to frame Empress Consort Wang(and later, her own eldest son Li Hong), in a power struggle.
皇后Empress Consort: 655 AD. After the power struggle and rivalries against Empress Consort Wang and Consort Xiao, Wu finally became the new Empress Consort of Gaozong. Later this year, former Empress Consort Wang and Consort Xiao were killed on orders by the new Empress Consort Wu after Emperor Gaozong showed signs of considering their release from arrest. During her years as Empress Consort, she actively gained allies and eliminated officials who had opposed her ascension.
天皇天后Imperial Emperor and Empress：660 AD, Emperor Gaozong suffered from illness and began to have Empress Consort Wu make rulings on petitions made by officials. It was said Wu had quick reactions and understood both literature and history, and therefore, she was making correct rulings. Thereafter, her authority rivaled Emperor Gaozong’s. Slowly, Gaozong became aware of Wu’s increasing power however, he could not stop Wu effectively.
皇太后Empress Dowager：683 AD. Emperor Gaozong passed away, his son with Wu, Li Xian, ascend to the imperial throne, became Emperor Zhongzong. Wu thus became the Empress Dowager, title for the mother of Emperor. However, Zhongzong only had a short 6 weeks of reign. As he showed signs of disobeying Empress Dowager Wu, Wu deposed him and replaced him with her younger son, Li Dan, becaming Emperor Ruizong.
Although Li Dan carried the title of Emperor, Wu was the actual ruler, both in substance and appearance. She did not even follow the customary pretense of hiding behind a screen or curtain, and in whispers issued commands for the nominal ruler to formally announce(垂帘听政). Ruizong never moved into the imperial quarters, appeared at no imperial function, and remained a virtual prisoner in the inner quarters.
称帝 Empress Regnant：690 AD. Wu had Emperor Ruizong yield the throne to her and established the Zhou Dynasty(武周), with her named as the ruler. She gave herself the title 圣神皇帝(Supreme Imperial Emperor).Traditional Chinese order of succession sis not allow a woman to ascend the throne, but Wu Zetianwas determined to quash the opposition and the use of the secret police did not subside, but continued, after her taking the throne.
Removal and Death: by 705AD, Wu became seriously ill. In Febrary, Wu passed her throne to Li Xian, Emperor Ruizong. Ruizong honored her with the title of Empress Regnant Zetian Dasheng(则天大圣皇帝). On 3rd March, Tang Dynasty was restored, ending the Zhou. Wu passed away on 16th December 705,and pursuant to a final edict issued in her name, was no longer referred to as Empress Regnant, but instead as Empress Consort Zetian Dasheng(则天大圣皇后).
Let us look at the attires of Wu Zetian at her different stage of life.
When she was only 14, as a contestant in beauty peagent 秀女, she has very simple hairstyle, with two buns on each side of the head, called 双环重髻 the double loop bun, usually used by unmarried girls, with minimal hair accessories. The hair accessory is Chai钗 (refer to previous post about traditional Chinese hair accessories link:https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/tzhao002/tag/chinese-hairstyle/).
After she was selected by Emperor Taizong and entitled Cairen, ranking fifth Pin, she has better ans slightly more hair accessories. Her hairstyle also changed. Her hair was splited into two sides and shaped like two loops on top of head, called 双环望仙髻 the ‘double loop fairy-watching bun’. This is a very popular style during Tang Dynasty. Her hair accessories now have not only Chai钗， but also Dian 钿, and tassels that resemble Buyao步摇.
When she was called back from Buddhist Temple and became the concubine of Gaozong, she was entitled 昭仪 Zhaoyi, 2nd Pin. It was a great leap in hierarchy. At this stage, her accessories are much more elaborated and luxurious.
In the first picture, her hairstyle is called 盘桓髻 Linger Bun, with all her hair gathered at the top first, then linger upwards, with a flat top. Then decorated with 篦Bi infront(the comb-like accessory), Chai钗(long pin with decorations) and Buyao步摇(pin with tassels) at sides, and some Dian钿(decorative flowery pin).
In the second picture, the hairstyle is same as Cairen style, the ‘doule loop fairy-watching bun’. However, there are more accessories, making her more demure, wealthy-looking, and high class.
The makeup in first picture is also a typical style during Tang Dynasty. It is called 梅花妆 the plum flower makeup, with plum flower motif at the middle of forehead.
Generally at Zhaoyi stage, her accessories are elaborated and flowery, colorful, and still has the youthfulness.
After she took down all her enemies and became the Empress Consort of Emperor Gaozong, her attire became even more flamboyant.
Her hairstyle is called 回鹘椎髻(literal translate as Hui Hu spine bun)
Hair accessories are excessive on her head. Chai, Dian, Buyao, Dian, Huasheng(forehead accessory), mostly golden in color, with some coral. The material are more costly, the amount of material used increased drastically. Also. Phoenix pattern are more obvious. Red and Yellow is the main colors. In addition, only the wife, not concubine, can wear scarlet color, as shown in the picture below.
Finally, she became the Empress Regnant, or the female Empress.
The hairstyle is called 高髻 high bun. the hair accessory is becoming more unisex, with less flowers and a throne same as previous male Emperors, with gold Chai at sides. Gold is the main color, giving the impression of supreme power. As she was already at the age of 67, her accessories are not as flowery and colorful anymore. She is matured ans experienced in handling all affairs of states and life. She did not need to dress prettily to impress any Emperor as she herself is the highest power. She only need to dress LIKE A BOSS.
There are many other hairstyles in Tang Dynasty, I cannot count and introduce one by one. The general trend is the higher position the person is at, the more elaborated one’s accessories will be. The color of gold and red is a symbol of power, and can only be used at certain position. Also, the use of phoenix and dragon pattern is very strictly classified.
From reading articles about Chinese architecture, I realize that there is rules in different pitched roof regarding owner’s hierarchies. This could give me some references in designing my jewelries as I am thinking of making a set with different social status representations(like from lower class girl to high rank empress).
In traditional Chinese architecture, the type of roof design is a reflection of the owner’s social status. From top class to commoners:
1st: 重檐庑殿顶。Double Hip roof. This type of roof can only be used for the main hall in the Forbidden City, and Confucians Hall, and main Buddhist temples.
Hip roof is a type of roof has all sides slope downwards to the walls., usually fairly gentle slopes. The roof slope curves inwards to form a convex surface. Double Hip roof, as the example shown above, is the layering of hip roof. Hip roof has five roof ridge, with the main ridge lying on the top horizontally.
2nd: 重檐歇山顶。Double Saddle Roof. This roof is used in the palaces, gardens, temples.
Tian An Men Gate, for example, is using this type of roof. This design comprises a hip roof that slopes down on four sides, and integrates a gable on two opposing sides. It has nine roof ridges, including one main ridge.
3rd: 单檐庑檐顶。 Hip Roof. The single version of double hip roof. Usually used in important architectures.
4th: 单檐歇山顶。Saddle Roof. The single version of double hip-and-gap roof. Usually is used in important architectures.
5th: 悬山顶。Suspension Roof. Usually used only in citizens’ houses, not for royal families or high status families.
This roof design has influenced Korean and Japanese architectures. The roof only have two slopes, with the two sides of “人”shape slightly protruding out than the wall below.
6th: 硬山顶。Gabbled Roof. According to Qing Dynasty’s regulations, only government officials below six Pin(see details at the bottom of the article) and commoners can use gabbled roof.\
This type pf roof only has two slopes, and the walls on each side is at the same level or slightly protruding out than the roof(compared to suspension roof).
7th: 卷棚顶。Round Ridge Roof. Used in commoner’s residence.
Round Ridge roof has no main ridge on top of the rood slopes, thus the lines of the roof is more gentle and smooth, which is why it is commonly used in gardens and casual places. It is also used for the servants’ residence in the Forbidden City.
8th: 攒尖顶。Pointed Roof. Usually used in pavilions ad towers. There is no rank specification for this type of roof.
Other types of roofs:
盝顶 Lu roof. It is a flatted roof surrounded by four side slopes and eight ridges.
盔顶 Helm Roof. It is similar to pointed roof. However, the slopes are curved outwards at the upper part and then transit to inwards, resembling a helmet. It is usually used in ceremonial architectures or pavilions.
From my readings, there is a more detailed introduction for Saddle Roof:
On the ridges of the saddle roof, there are always beastly creatures sitting. The types, numbers, and sequence of the creatures need to follow strict rules. For example, sitting on the two sides of the main ridge is the 正吻 Kiss Beast, also known as Swallow Ridge Beast, as the way they look.
At the end of the rest eight ridges, there are 垂兽Dangling Beast. There are 8 Dangling Beasts in total.
On the 戗脊 Hip ridge(the diagonal ridge below the flight gabbles on each side) there are a row of running beasts.
There are ten beasts in total, the leading character is a heavenly being riding his beast ,the rest is dragon, phoenix, lion, Pegasus, Seahorse, Suan Ni(son of dragon), Ya Yu(Sea creature in tales), Xie Zhi(goast-like beast), Dou Niu(water related beast), Shi Xing(Thunder related beast). Some of the beast may exchange places.
Chinese Official rankings is very complicated, just like the modern China as there are too many people in political area holding positions. The highest official would be ranking one Pin, while the lowest would be nine Pin and blow. and in between two Pins, like One Pin and Two Pin, there are many divisions and subtitles. Four Pin would of middle to low range.
Speaking of Chinese architecture, the first thing come into people’s mind is probably the Forbidden City, also known as The Palace Museum. It is the home of royal family during Ming and Qing Dynasties, and represents the highest achievement of Chinese Architecture. Every arrangement and design in the Palace Museum has its meaning and references in Feng Shui. The whole palace is symmetrical, where the main halls of the palace locating on the central axis. More details of Forbidden City can be found online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_City#Outer_Court_or_the_Southern_Section Forbidden City wikipedia
Forbidden City is, at the same time, not the only representation of Chinese architecture. There are many other unique characteristics that of Chinese buildings, in common people’s house, mountains and rural area, as well as in all the 胡同Hu Tong(alley) in Beijing.
I would summarize what I think can be relevant to my project as below:
—-The main colors of the Forbidden City architecture is red and yellow. It is believed that yellow is the symbol of Earth(in the Five Wlements Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water), and Earth represents the nation, which is why the roof of the buildings in the Forbidden City is always yellow in color. Red is the symbol of Fire, and fire can give rise to Earth, which is why the walls and pillars is always in red. Red Fire holding the yellow Earth, means the prosperity of the nation.
—-the rectangular shape and layout of the whole Forbidden City.In ancient China, when science was not much of a common sense and people do not have an accurate idea about the world and universe, they used to believe that the sky is round in shape, and the earth is rectangular(天圆地方). Chinese emperors used to believe that China is the centre of the world, and the Palace Museum is thus the centre of the world. Rectangular shape represents Earth。 However, there are exceptions, such as 天坛 the Temple of Heaven , where the emperors went to worship heaven for auspicious and prosperous years. As you can see from the image, the base is squarish, and the upper staircase as well as the main temple is round, precisely reflects the idea of “sky is round and earth is rectangular”. The Temple of Heaven is where (they believe) people connect to Heavens and Gods, so the temple should be built in heavenly way.
This wall was designed to cater clustered residence where the population is comparably crowded and fire prevention is at great challenge. Horse-head wall can help preventing the spread of fire from neighbors. The horse head of the horse-head wall is usually 金印式(gold deal type) or (chao hu type) which expresses the house owners’ pursuit and wishes of high achievement in political area. From top down view, the horse-head wall creates an illusion of full steam ahead with its ups and downs.
—-Hollow Engraved Flower Windows
In traditional Chinese houses, there are always high walls surrounding the whole area as boundary.It is a safety precaution, but at the same time, it might give people residing inside the sense of repression. That is why hollow engraved windows are incorporated to break the dullness. The windows allows sufficient lighting across the walls, and let the whole architecture breathe, while still providing divisions. The pattern on the windows are usually auspicious in meaning, to show the good wishes for the family members. The hollow windows also brings out the beauty of void, adding sophistication to the design.
Pitched roof is a crucial element in traditional Chinese architecture. Pitched roof has smooth curves that instantly deliver the sense of magnificence and rhythm. The tiles on the roof forms linear patterns that adds interesting details to the overall image. In addition, pitched roof has the function of adjusting indoor temperature during hot summer and cold winter. It provides ventilation as well as draining off rain water.
Cornices are the upturned corners of the roof of architectures, resembling the form of flying bird, which gives the sense of lightness and delight. They are usually seen at the corners of pavilions, terraces, pagodas and towers.