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Phoenix Crown: Empresses’ Luxury Headdresses

Jul 27, 2009

Phoenix Crown by {link:http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/yeaharn-0125}张雅涵{/link}

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


Phoenix crown in traditional Chinese wedding by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ibooke/2951063890/}Yiping@Suzhou{/link}

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.

6-dragons-3-phoenixes crown

[sources]: 1. nipic.com 2.3. wikipedia

height: 35.5cm, diameter: 20cm, gemstones: 128 pieces (71 rubies and 57 sapphires), pearl: 5449 pieces, weight: 2905g

3-dragons-2-phoenixes crown

[sources]: 1. hanchinese.net 2. cchicc.com

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)

[sources]: wikipedia

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.

[Chinese Keywords]
国家一级文物 禁止出境

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  1. a Chinese in overseas
    November 15th, 2011 at 04:56 | #1

    Thanks for your all information. I’m a Chinese who was born and have been living in overseas. I saw this phoenix crown many times via Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese dramas on domestic & cable TV channels. I was impressed since the first glance but I don’t know what it’s called. Then, I’ve kept searching and found out yours. Thank you again for your long details & beautiful pictures – The bride looks beautiful same as her phoenix crown!
    By the way, I don’t have Chinese software on my computer. Could you please give me the pin-in of “phoenix crown”? 😮

  2. November 15th, 2011 at 10:42 | #2

    @”a Chinese in overseas”, Glad you find my article helpful! The Pin-Yin for “phoenix crown” is Feng(凤) Guan(冠).

  3. a Chinese in overseas
    December 19th, 2011 at 05:12 | #3

    Thanks for your reply. I hope I could trace back to my root in China one day! By the way, I recently found out some ordinary pictures in funny aspect from a website, such creative people! You could check it out from the follow link http://campus.sanook.com/story_picture/show/education/5841/2-34/2 (there’s no virus, I suppose.) Or you just explain to me how to post pictures on your blog & I’ll do – no obscene pictures for sure, I swear! They are so cute & funny & I believe they’ll make you smile! ^_^

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