Author submission, unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited

Recently, the Tang Dynasty court drama “Glory of the Great Tang” has gained momentum. In the Tang Palace play, what is more eye-catching than the plot is the gorgeous and bold makeup and costumes of Tang Dynasty women. In addition to chest wear, the openness of Tang Dynasty women was also reflected in facial makeup. The glory of the Tang Dynasty lies in the Zhenguan Kaiyuan, the Daming Palace Garden, Li Bai Dufu, the Tang Dynasty woman with a peach face.

It can be said that the makeup of the beauty of the Tang Dynasty is simply painting on the face, with a peculiar imagination and a full brain. Let’s warm up first and take a look at a “picture of a chess lady” (unearthed in Tomb No. 187 of Astana, Turpan).

The Tang Dynasty woman in the picture is wearing a crimson floral blouse, a green Luo skirt, and her body is plump, especially the facial rouge is like splashing ink, and even painted to the ears. Is this level of exaggeration acceptable to you? How was a Tang Dynasty beauty created? It turns out that being a noble lady of the Tang Dynasty is really not easy.

Tang Dynasty beauty makeup can be roughly divided into the following steps: applying lead powder – smearing rouge – painting forehead yellow – repairing eyebrows – appliqué – dotting noodles – dotting lips.

1. Upper lead hua

There is an idiom called “washing away the lead”. The “lead hua” here is the “foundation” that ancient women put on their faces. The lead is mostly white, and some powders are mixed with spices. Painting your face with lead and preparing yourself to change your face is not a difficult first step.

2. Splash rouge

Tang Dynasty women smearing rouge is simply splashing ink freely, opening and closing. There are many kinds of “rouge makeup” in the Tang Dynasty, and all of them have specific names, such as wine smudge makeup, peach blossom makeup, Feixia makeup, three white makeup, tear makeup, crying makeup, blood smudge makeup, falling plum makeup and so on. It can be seen that the fashion system of the Tang Dynasty has begun to take shape.

Wine smudge is to apply heavy makeup to the cheeks and even the ears with rouge. This “figure painting” unearthed in the Astana tomb in Xinjiang is an example.

Feixia makeup uses light vermilion as the base, and then applies lead hua to create a red and transparent powder effect. Three white makeup only uses rouge to apply the forehead, nose and chin, which shows that the Tang Dynasty people have learned how to use shadows to create three-dimensional makeup techniques.

Understanding ancient poetry from the perspective of life history may yield something else. There is a sentence in Du Mu’s “A Fang Palace Fu”: “Green clouds disturb, comb Xiao Tao.” The stream is greasy, and the fat water is also discarded.” The face wash of the palace concubines was full of rouge ointment, turning the river into a “rouge river”.

Du Mu’s depiction of the amount of rouge used by noblewomen in the Tang Dynasty is not an exaggeration. Lu You has a phrase in “The Phoenix of the Head”, “Tear stains are red and the mackerel is clear”, which says that the woman’s tears rinse the rouge and dye the scarf red.

When we wrote as children, we would always use our faces “like flowers” as a metaphor for girls’ cheeks. This metaphor has already been used by Tang Dynasty poets, “Furong opens to both sides of the face” (Wang Changling’s “Two Songs of Picking Lotus”), or the more familiar “human face peach blossom red” (Cui Hu’s “Title Capital City Nanzhuang”) are all true portrayals of Tang Dynasty women’s makeup.

Tang poetry is full of boundless romantic imagination, the metaphor is unconventional, novel and bold, but it seems to be unpretentious, that is because the life of the Tang people is originally like this!

3. Repair eyebrows

Similar to rouge makeup, there were many eyebrow shapes in the Tang Dynasty. “Qingdai dotted eyebrows and slender eyebrows” (Bai Juyi’s “Shangyang White-haired Man”), this is thin eyebrows. There is also “double eyebrow painting eight character low” (Bai Juyi’s “Shi Shi Makeup”), which is the eight character eyebrow. A woman in the mural of Wang Zhizhi’s tomb drew a figure-eight eyebrow and wept before speaking, which caused pity.

Tang Xuanzong even painted the “Ten Eyebrow Diagram” to record the ten eyebrow shapes popular at that time: Mandarin duck, small mountain, five mountains, three peaks, weeping pearl, but moon, branch, hanyan, clouds, and dizziness. It’s a pity that the picture has been lost, and behind the dreamy name can only be endless reverie.

However, when we see the face of this lady (part of “The Lady with Hairpins”), do you find anything wrong with the proportions of her facial features? Yes, her forehead seems to be too large, and her eyes are almost in the middle of the entire face, when in fact our eyes are located about 3/5 of the face. Obviously, people’s facial features, especially eyebrows, are not born like this, so how are these eyebrow shapes achieved?

This involves a morbid ethos of the late Tang: the opening of the forehead. Forehead opening is shaving part of the hair in front of the forehead, widening the forehead, striving for maximum area for complex makeup, in addition to shaving the eyebrows. Combined with the previous lead-hua “foundation”, the face change is complete. Combined with this real atmosphere, we can know that the picture of the lady is not exactly artistic exaggeration, and perhaps there is also real life.

Such makeup is extreme and dangerous. Emperor Wenzong of Tang (826-840) issued a special edict on this matter, “forbidding high updos, dangerous makeup, eyebrow removal, and forehead opening.” In addition to these “dangerous makeup”, Tang Wenzong also worries about the width of women’s sleeves. During the Middle and Late Tang Dynasties, many women had sleeves as wide as four feet and fell to the ground. Therefore, he stipulated that women’s sleeves should not exceed one foot five inches.

It is somewhat strange that the king of a country should be so meticulous that he even cares about how women wear makeup and the width of their sleeves. In fact, the change in clothing seems to foreshadow the fate of a dynasty.

It can be seen from the edict of Emperor Wenzong of Tang that the decline and sickness of society in the middle and late Tang Dynasty, and the decline of the dynasty are also depicted in this “dangerous makeup”, and at this time, it is not much time before the fall of the Tang Dynasty in 907. Women’s every move involved the nerves of the rise and fall of the dynasty, and it is no wonder that kings are clinging to women’s clothing.

4. Flower and frontal yellow

“Haw back chirp, Mulan Danghuwei”. At the end of “Mulan Word”, Mulan finally changed into women’s clothing “to mirror appliqué yellow”. Flower yellow is one of the ancient women’s masks.

The “yellow” here is the frontal yellow. Tang dynasty women would dye their foreheads yellow, and there were also “duck yellow” and “goose yellow” in Tang poems. In addition, flowers, birds, stars, moons and other natural things cut from golden yellow materials are glued to the forehead. The face of a woman is thus loaded with the whole mountain.

“Hua Dian” is a thin flake, also known as “Hanako”, that is attached to the forehead and between the eyebrows. Huadan has a variety of shapes, including round, prismatic, moon-shaped, horn-shaped, and the color is mainly red, green and yellow. As for the material, it can be gold leaf, shells, or even dragonfly wings and scales.

The shape of Hua Dan often appears in costume dramas. Unearthed at No. 206 of Tomb Astana, this painted wooden female dancing figurine was also affectionately known as “Miss Tang Dynasty”. The red pattern on her forehead is Hua Dian. The woman in “Pounding Diagram” also wears a flower dan between her foreheads.

5. Pretty face, dotted lips

There are also two black dots next to the corners of the mouth of the “painted wooden female dancer”, which are the face. Draw dots on the cheek with dan or ink, much like a mole, and maybe it also means artificial dimples. The face does not have to be on the cheek, but can also be dotted in the corner of the eye and other places.

Finally, it’s time to dot your lips. Meng Hui systematically studied the lip products of the Tang Dynasty – lip fat in “Sixteen Sounds Among Flowers”. The reason why it is called dotted lips is because lip painting is done in one go.

There are also various styles of lip makeup, pomegranate, big red spring, half dew, dewdrop, light red heart. The lead “foundation” covers the original shape of the lips, and the Tang people can draw their favorite lip shape with lip fat.

The “lip fat” of the Tang Dynasty was solid, similar to today’s lipstick. During the Tang and Song dynasties, lip fat was a health and beauty product that could also be used by men, similar to today’s ointments or hand creams.

Every year, the Tang Emperor rewarded ministers with face fat and lip fat in the “year-end benefits” that the Tang Dynasty emperor rewarded his ministers. Du Fu mentioned in the poem “La Ri” that “lip fat and face medicine follow grace”. Many of them are given to soldiers in the bitter cold as lip protection and skin care products in winter.

Since it is a condolence product of the imperial court, there must be a professional production department, this is the “Shang Pharmacy”, in this institution there are “four lip fat makers” specializing in the production of lip fat. In addition, “Medicine King” Sun Simiao’s “Emergency Formula” also has a record of using special “lip fat” to treat lip diseases.

Of course, lip fat as a feminine cosmetics can also be more romantic. In 889 AD, Han Kai attended the “Flower Exploration Banquet” and received a mysterious gift during the banquet. He wrote a poem about it: “Untie the small print envelope of Aya, and the flower feast shows the spring bush.” Dai’s eyebrows are slightly greenish, and the sandalwood is thin red. A handkerchief had lip prints and eyebrow prints printed on it, and Han Wei immediately learned the identity of the other party, and his heart was self-explanatory.

At this point, a standard Tang Dynasty beauty makeup is done, I wonder if you can accept such exaggeration and boldness? In fact, what is more glorious than the makeup of women in the Tang Dynasty is their expressions. The expression of this “three-colored glazed pottery figurine” (partial) in the collection of the National Museum is confident, idyllic, and full of happiness.

The glory of the Great Tang is in the skirt, in the rouge, and more in the eyebrows.