Phoenix Crown: Empresses’ Luxury Headdresses
Name: Phoenix Crowns | 中文名: 凤冠
Date to: Wanli Era of Ming Dynasty (~1573 – 1620 A.D.)
Unearthed: Dingling of Ming Dynasty Tombs, 1956
Current location: National Museum of China
Chinese traditional headgear for women
Phoenix crown is a Chinese traditional headgear for women. It was worn by noblewomen in the Ming Dynasty on ceremonies or official occasions. It is also the traditional headgear for brides. It is adorned with gold dragons, phoenixes made with kingfisher feathers, beaded pheasants, pearls and gemstones.
Phoenix crown was first developed in Tang Dynasty, and has been worn ever since till the Ming Dynasty, with many changes made with time.
Phoenix crowns of Wanli Era: Crown of the Crowns
Wanli Era is one of the most prosperous time of Ming Dynasty. Booming economy resulted in luxury life style across the country. And no wonder, the royal family led the fashion. We can see this from these gorgeous phoenix crowns.
In 1956, four exceptional crowns were unearthed from Dingling (one of the Ming Dynasty Tombs) with 3000+ other precious relics. They belong to Empress Xiao-Duan and Empress Xiaojing (two each) of Wanli Emperor.
Let’s take a look at these pictures and some brief data first.
height: 35.5cm, diameter: 20cm, gemstones: 128 pieces (71 rubies and 57 sapphires), pearl: 5449 pieces, weight: 2905g
height: 26.5cm, diameter: 23cm, gemstones: 100+ pieces, pearl: 5000+ pieces
12-dragons-9-phoenixes crown (left below) and 9-dragons-9-phoenixes crown (right below)
12-D-9-P: gemstones: 121 pieces, pearl: 3588 pieces
9-D-9-P: height: 27cm, diameter: 23.7cm, gemstones: 150+ pieces, pearl: 3500+ pieces, weight: 2320g
Making of phoenix crowns: not a easy job
The decorative accessories are mainly dragons and phoenixes. The dragons are molded with gold wire which has a hollow out stereo effect. The phoenixes are pasted with kingfisher feathers, which have never-fade bright colors.
All these dragons, phoenixes, gemstones, green cloud and leaves, and bobins are made separately then inserted into pipes on the crown to assemble a phoenix crown.
And to assemble the crown is a “mission impossible”, a very complicated procedure. To arrange of all accessories, to thread thousands pieces of pearls, to inlay hundreds of gemstones…etc., to put all these components on one crown properly and artistically. it is not an easy task that ordinary craftsmen can accomplish.
[Forbidden Treasure of China Series]
This is the 8th of 64 culture heritages that the government of China forbid to exhibit abroad. The complete list is here. In Chinese.