After all the research I finally start to write my own cheesy story about Emperor, Empress and concubines. I would narrate the story in the perspective of the SON OF THE EMPEROR who later ascend to throne after his father’s early death. It makes sense as he would be someone witness all what happened. It is gonna to be a brief story, compared to the 60-episode Chinese drama, but would be sufficient to present all the jewelries in the collection. Story can be altered depending on my final designs.
However this is just the draft so a lot of things I have not made up my mind such as the names of the concubines, emperors, etc.
Before starting the main part, here is some background of my story. The hierarchy of the concubines of Emperor follows the late Qing Dynasty system(Top down):
皇后Queen Consort x 1
皇贵妃 Imperial Noble Consort x 1
贵妃Noble Conosort x 2
妃Consort x 4
嫔Dame x 6
贵人Noble Lady x unlimited
常在Attendant x unlimited
答应Repliant x unlimited
Girls selected from the triennial beauty pageant will start from the title of Noble Lady, skipping the Attendant and Repliant. The contestant of the pageant, before being selected, is called Xiunv秀女.
Chapter 1-Emperor’s new concubines
Every 3 years there will be a nation-wide beauty pageant to select new concubines for the Emperor. The indirect relatives of imperial family, as well as the families of government officials are required to send their daughters when they reach the age of 13. This year, the daughter of official Lee is 13, and thus, is sent to the Palace for the selection. Lee’s mother feels so anxious and reluctant to leave her daughter, as she knows the intense rivalries in the Palace can torture her daughter for the rest of her life. Lee has unparalleled beauty for her age, and mother is sure that her daughter will be selected as Emperor’s concubine. However, my father(the Emperor) is already 38 years old this year–older than Official Lee. Thinking of daughter becoming the concubine of someone that is 25 years older than her, the mother can’t stop sobbing.
Lee, however, shows more excitement than anxious. She has heard so much about the luxurious life inside the Palace. the endless jewelries and delicacies. She wants to be part of it, she wants all the attentions and respect. She has no idea about how she is going to achieve it, she only knows that she will gain what she wants one day.
On the day of departure, Lee’s mother gave her a 簪zan, telling her that she is going to become a lady soon, not a little girl anymore. This Zan has very simple design, as Lee’s family is not well off, and Lee’s mother hopes that Lee can always remember her root and her family.
Finally, 秀女Xiunv Lee is sent to the Palace, together with the daughters from other families. Lee’s mother has also appointed a girl servant for Lee, to take care of her. Among other families there is Xiunv Ou, who is the best friend of Lee. And Xiunv Zhao, who is the daughter of first rank official Zhao, and is a spoilt princess of the wealthy family. Although she was only a 13 years old Xiunv, she can afford to give tips to a lot of servants in the Palace, so as to build up her network. Like Lee, Zhao’s mother also gives her a piece of jewelry. However, hers is much more delicate and expensive-looking, with dangling tassels–a Buyao步摇.
All the Xiunvs were settled in a small courtyard, each is assigned with one room and one servant. Of course, Zhao gets the best room and the most obedient servant. So their life in the Palace starts. None of them have met my father (the Emperor), and all are excited about it.
The first time i see these girls is at the Imperial Garden. They are around the same age as me. I can’t tell which xiunv is from which family, but it doesn’t matter to me, because only those are selected will be my father’s concubine—my step-mother, although as I said, we are at same age.
Soon the selection day arrives. The selection is always very straight forward. Grandma, the Empress Dowager, will hint my dad on who to select. She always favors the girls from her own clan, or from her relatives family. As for the girls from her opponents’ family, they never get selected in the pageant, ending up all becoming the servants in the Palace. That is why, rumor says that those family always send fake daughters to the pageant, so their real daughters will not suffer and become servants for decades. If Xiunvs are not selected by the Emperor, they will be released out of the Palace only after 25-30 years old.
I get to witness all these because grandma wants me to learn about the customs. As expected, Xiunv Zhao is selected first. She is from Official Zhao’s family, certainly she will become my father’s concubine–Official Zhao is so close to grandma. Xiunv Zhao–Or Noble Lady Zhao now, has presentable look. However her attitude is so arrogant. But I guess no one can do anything about it, she has her father, and my grandma as backing, even my father doesn’t like her much, she will have her place in the family.
After the first Noble Lady is selected. the rest is more flexible for my father. As long as they are not from the opponent’s family, my grandma will close one eye. So normally the prettier ones are selected. My father picked this girl, I did not know her name at that time, but she is stunning. Her beauty stands out in all the Xiunvs. On her hair there is a simple Zan with minimum decorations. Later I learnt that she is from Official Lee’s family. After her there is another girl selected, which I did not pay attention to. I am mesmerized by Lee’s beauty, so much that I hope they were selecting girls for me, not my father. I always wonder why father needs so many concubines, he did not have time to meet all of them. I guess some of the step-mothers have not seen my father for years. The Palace is immense, and lonely. I see nothing fun being a concubine, especially when she is not favored by my father. It is just a sad life.
All the Xiunvs beings elected are now Noble Ladies, and they get to move into better place, with better attires and some more accessories. The nect time I see them, they are wearing flowery Chai and Huasheng. Lee is so pretty with her new look, even she was not given the best items. Nevertheless, their Palace life begins and so does my story with Lee.
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.
I came across a few articles regarding the different types of hair accessories during ancient China. They more or less are same in content. Here is the brief summary of the information.
There are countless styles of hair accessories in ancient China, just like modern times. It is hard to count every single design, like we can’t give an exact number of different dress styles. Accessories always go with creativity, thus there will always be something different and new. However, all the hair accessories can be categorized into the few main categories below. As the translation of ancient Chinese language is difficult to be accurate, I will just loosely translate the names with descriptions.
Hair pin, in the shape of a long stick. In ancient China, people use it to bun up hair. In Chinese tradition, when girls reach the age of 15, they will bun up the hair with a hair pin. As such, 笄ji is also the word for Rite of Passage for girls.
Relevant quotes from classic Chinese books in Chinese history:
<礼记。内则>：“女子十有五而笄” Book of Rites. Neize: Girls pin their hair up at the age of 15
<仪礼。士昏礼>：“女子许嫁，笄而礼之称字” Book of Etiquettes. Marriage Etiquette: When girl is (at the age of) allowed to get married, they will put a ji to bun up hair.
簪Zan is developed from 笄ji, and the usage is almost the same as ji. It is usually made of gold, jade, tusk, bone, tortoiseshell, etc. It can also be used to scratch one’s scalp.
Since Shang Dynasty(1600BC-1046BC), Chinese started to use zan. It serves two purposes, firstly is to set hair bun or, secondly is for decoration. It can be used by both men and women. In ancient China, there are rules that criminals are not allowed to use zan. Emperor’s wives if commit any offence are also banned from using zan. So, zan also is a symbol of dignity.
In Neolithic times(Neo stoneage), until Shang&Zhou Dynasty(1600B.C-256B.C), zan is mainly made of bones. SInce Han Dynasty(202BC-220AD), ivory zan, jade zan, gem embed zan started to emerge. During Tang Dynasty(618-907AD), Song Dynasty(960-1279AD) and Yuan Dynasty(1271-1368AD), the use of precious materials such as gold, silver, jade became prevalent, The techniques also improved a lot to create more delicate and sophisticated designs.
The head of zan(the decorative end of zan)is commonly seen with the motifs of plants, animals, geometric shapes, or other home objects. Most of the designs have auspicious meanings. Sometimes gems such as jade, enamel, coral, pearls are embed into the designs. The use of zan is also strictly going according one’s social status. The best and most rare materials are always used by royalties. Dragon, phoenix motifs are exclusively for royal family, specifically, the Emperor, Queen Consort to Consorts, Empress Dowager.
As mentioned above, zan can be used functionally and/or decoratively. For function use, zan is used in the same way as ji, where it is inserted into the bun to stabilize hair. For decorative purpose, it can be used in more versatile ways, in different parts of the head.
Relevant quotes from classic Chinese books and poem in Chinese history:
<后汉书。舆服志>：“黄金龙首衔白珠，鱼须擿(zhi4)，长一尺，为簪珥。” <Book of Later Han.Travel and Dress>: Golden dragon head with white pearl embed in mouth, Fish Beard pin, (apprx) 23cm l0ng, is the zan and the jade earrings .
杜甫<望春>：“白头搔更短，浑欲不胜簪”<Spring view>by Du Fu: My white hair is even scarier with scratching, and can barely hold a hairpin(zan). (translation: https://eastasiastudent.net/china/classical/du-fu-spring-view/, last access 30th Ausgust 2016)
钗chai basically is two 簪zan combined together, it is used to hold hair, or can be used to pin the hat on hair. Zan always have two pins, or sticks, instead of just one pin. Zan is not only an accessory but also a symbol of love, probably because it is in pair. In ancient China, between lovers they will split a chai at farewell and each person keeps half. When they meet again they will combine the two halfs into one.
辛弃疾<祝英台近.晚春>：“宝钗分，桃叶渡，颜柳暗南浦”<Zhu Yingtai jin.Late Spring>:”Split the chai, At Taoye Du(the place of farewell), fog is covering the sight of the willows, the scenery at waterside is very desolated.” However, this poem is using an metaphor to express the poet’s sadness of leaving his motherland.
步摇Buyao is an extension of Ji, Zan, and Chai. It had large variety of designs. One main character of Buyao is that it has some mobile part that can moves when the lady walks. It could be tassels or spring-like parts, chains or anything that has certain mobility. Hence the name came as 步(bu,walk) 摇(yao, move).
video source:Youtube Channel FU ZHANG published on 26th April 2016. Chinese drama<The Empress of China>, stories happen in Tang Dynasty(618-907AD)
Just for reference and get an idea how Buyao looks when wearing. You can watch the video starting at 10:16 when the Consorts are talking with each other. Personally I think Buyao is one of the hair accessories that emphasize on feminine aspects the most, making women look more demure and gentle, with subtle sexiness. The drama and costume generally respects Chinese History, including the color of the attires, the design of the jewelries, the hairstyle. You can find a few types of hair accessories I mentioned in this post.
Relevant documents in classic Chinese books:
<释名.释首饰>:“步摇上有垂珠，步则动摇也。”<Late Han Etymological Dictionary. Name of accessories>:”Buyao has dangling beads, when walks it will sway”
白居易<长恨歌>:“云鬓花颜金步摇，芙蓉暖帐度春宵。” <A Song of Immortal Regret>by Bai Juyi:”She had a florid face and cloud-soft hair adorned with glittering golden beads (Buyao) that swayed,
Behind bedchamber curtains painted with lotus, springtime passion was in play. translation:https://28utscprojects.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/071/ last access 30th August 2016 This poem is used to describe Yang Yuhuan, also known as Yang Guifei, the most famous Imperial Noble Consort of Tang Dynasty. She is one of the four most beautiful women in Chinese history, and is also blamed for distracting and interfering Emperor’s affairs of states. Rumor says she was executed in Lushan’s rebellion against the emperor, but the truth remains a mystery.
钿Dian, also known as 钿花dian flower, originated from Southern Song(420-479AD), generally in red, green, and blue. Made with gild and/or silver, it can be pinned on hair as decoration. In most designs, dian make use of different materials to create flower shape. There are other patterns beside flower, such as bird, fish, duck. This is similar to many hair accessories we use in modern days, purely for decorative purposes. It can be combined with Buyao, as seen in image 2,4, and 5 there are dangling beads on the dian.
In different occasions, women wear different hair accessories according to their status. Royal generally wears flamboyantly. in <后汉书.舆服志><Book of Later Han.Travel and Dress>says when Grandma-Empress dowager and Empress Dowager(grandmother and mother of the Emperor) visit the temples, their accessories“簪以瑇瑁为擿，长一尺，端为华盛，上为凤皇爵，以翡翠为毛羽，下有白珠，垂黄金镊。左右一横簪之，以安蔮结。诸簪珥皆同制，其擿有等级焉。”loosely translate to”Zan is made of tortoiseshell, about 23cm long, Huasheng at front, Phoenix Jue on top, using jade as feather, below here is white beads, and dangling golden accessories. There is a horizontal zan on each side of the head, to complete the entire outfit. Every one’s earrings look the same, but hair accessories shows hierarchies. ”
华胜Huasheng, also known as 花勝(pronounce the same), usually is made into the shape of plants and is put at the forehead of women as decoration.
Relevant documents in classic Chinese books:
<释名.释首饰>:“华胜，华，象草木之华也；胜，言人形容正等，一人著之则胜，蔽发前为饰也”<Late Han Etymological Dictionary. Name of accessories>:”Huangsheng, Hua, resembling flora; sheng, to describe people with presentable appearance, if people wear it, it is an accessory at forehead.”
篦Bi is a finer version of comb, it can be used to comb off dust and dirt from hair. In ancient China, people pay a lot of emphasis on grooming, thus looking good is very important, and people bring a comb with them wherever they go, especially for women. Slowly it became a fashion to use bi, which is a comb that pin on hair.
from this painting of Zhang Xuan we can tell how women use Bi at that point of time.
http://tieba.baidu.com/p/2708145136 Post by Yi Yi Guan on Baidu,<顺手带来，中国古代女子发饰：笄、簪、钗、华胜、步摇……> Last access 30th August 2016
http://fashion.sohu.com/20150410/n411077091.shtml 360doc.com <中国古代女子发饰：笄、簪、钗、华胜、步摇、篦、钿> Last access 30th August 2016
Nowadays we do not use so many types of hair accessories anymore-at least not at the same time. However, there are similar products for girls who want extra sparkles.I browse through my favorite shopping website shopbop.com and found some items:(https://www.shopbop.com/accessories-hair/br/v=1/2534374302062842.htm)
There are also bohemian style hair accessories that can be put at forehead, which resembles Huasheng.
The ancient style accessories can be re-designed into something more suitable, wearable in modern times, and yet reserves a bit of traditions.
While this video is not a 100% accurate historical documentation, it gives an idea of how important hairstyle is in Chinese history.
Hair carries significant meaning in Chinese culture, it reflects your identity, status, your religions, and your political stands. With changing of ruling parties, the hairstyle changes as well. For example, when Qing dynasty(1644-1912) took over Ming dynasty(1368-1644), The emperor of Qing enforced the policy of cutting hair.
It was so important the policy stated “Keep your hair and lose your head, keep your head and lose your hair”.
As for women, it is said that only married women are supposed to bun all the hair up. For single ladies they are supposed to let some hair down.
Also, cutting hair could be an offense in Chinese Culture, as people believed that your body are all the gifts from your parents, damaging your body equals to insulting your parents, which is unfilial. Cutting of hair can be seen as a punishment or humiliation.
There was a historically documented event in Qing Dynasty, between Queen Consort Ulanara乌喇那拉氏 and Emperor Qianlong 乾隆皇帝(1711-1799), during 1765. Ulanara was the sencond Queen Consort of Emperor Qianlong, after the first 孝贤纯皇后Queen Consort Xiaoxianchun(Emperess Xiaoxianchun) passed away.
Queen Consort Ulanara protested against Emperor Qianlong on his decision to appoint an Imperial Noble Consort upon a girl(*see more details below). As cutting hair is normally only performed when someone’s parents or spouse pass away, or some important figure passes away, it representing the virtual death of oneself, as to accompany the dead. The protest was so intense that Emperor Qianlong and his Queen Mother(Empress Dowager) abolished Queen Consort Ulanara into the Cold Palace(**see explanations below). Because of this incidence, Queen Consort Ulanara was never treated fairly and respected by Empreror Qianlong. After she passed away in 1766, one year after the incidence, Emperor Qianlong degraded her funeral scale and standard, and banned her from being buried in royal tombs. Even 13 years after the event, Emperor Qianlong still hasn’t forgiven her.
Relevant resource: (In Chinese) start at 19’20”
Youtube Channel CCTV Culture Official (By China Central Television)
20140606 百家讲坛 清十二帝后宫疑案6 乾隆帝爱恨交加的三个女人
Access date: 28th August 2016
As we can see hair and hairstyle have great meaning in Chinese history. Although in modern times, hairstyle is, in most cases, a personal preference, and cutting hair is not a sin or an offence anymore(maybe in some religions), we definitely have more freedom in deciding how long we want our hair to be and how often we want to style it. However, the idea of hair accessories can still bring up some Chinese traditions and stories. Incorporating hair accessories into my jewelry design can be a good direction to look at. Combining what I have mentioned in previous post regarding Chinese wedding customs, hair accessories can also play up and down, for different occasions, for different hairstyles.
*The hierarchies of Emperors wives in Chinese History, Qing Dynasty
There are strict rules regarding the hierarchies of Emperor’s wife in Qing Dynasty. From the highest ranking to the lowest ranking, and the maximum number of persons allowed for each title are listed below: (Translation may vary)
皇后 Queen Consort x 1
皇贵妃 Imperial Noble Consort x 1
贵妃 Noble Consort x 2
妃 Consort x 4
嫔 Dame x 6
贵人 Noble Lady x unlimited
常在 Attendant x unlimited
答应 Repliant x unlimited
Generally, Emperor will respect Queen Consort and do not appoint Imperial Noble Consort as this may make the Queen Consort feel intimidated or threatened, which is why Queen Consort Ulanara was so raged at Emperor Qianlong’s decision.
Translation of titles: http://www.guokr.com/question/482351/ last access 28th August 2016
Hierarchies and number limits: http://zhidao.baidu.com/question/10825806.html last access 28th August 2016
** The Cold Palace:
Also known as Limbo. A representation of the place in the Forbidden City where Emperors put his abandoned, abolished or unwanted wives to spend rest of their life. Usually it means the Emperor has lost interests in them or wants to punish them for their wrong doings.
The Cold Palace is not a specific palace in the Forbidden city, it symbolizes a situation where emperor does not want to pay attention to the wife anymore, and do not entitle the wife to have the welfare that she used to have. This includes less maids servicing her. Once the wife is put into the Cold Palace, it is equals to taking away all her titles in the hierarchy although it may not be officially announced. It is very commonly seen in Chinese drama and novels.