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In the Ming dynasty, married women were required to pull their hair up into different styles of buns, into which they inserted a variety of hanging adornments and hairpins. A double-pronged hairpin was called a Chai (钗), while a single-pronged hairpin was called a Zan (簪). Prior to Song times, women preferred the double-pronged Chai, but during the Ming dynasty, the single-pronged Zan was more popular. The use of the Zan allowed women to adorn their hair with more ornaments than was possible with the larger Chai.

In Chinese culture, one distinctive type of jewelry is referred to as Toumian (头面), a class of female headgear. Such headgear pieces have distinctive names, locations, and methods of placement. The Toumian worn by Ming dynasty women were generally composed of different types of hair ornaments, such as the Taoxin, Fenxin, Binchai, and various small Zan. Over 25 Toumian were found in the tomb of Prince Zhuang. They can be classified into straight, flat, and reverse styles based on the directions in which the hairpins were inserted.

Details

  • Title: Headgear Set
  • Location: Tomb of Prince Zhuang of Liang, Zhongxiang City, Hubei Province
  • Medium: Gold, Jade, and Precious Stones
  • Excavation Date: 2001
  • Dynasty: Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644

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