The desire to look attractive is universal. Since ancient times, the pursuit of beauty has never stopped. Throughout traditional Chinese makeup history, not only women, but also men love beauty, and some men even know more about makeup than women, and there are many of them who are the best. The earliest archaeological discovery of makeup tools was used by men. Hubei Zaoyang Jiu Lien Dun No. 1 Chu tomb unearthed “portable” makeup box, the box is divided into bronze mirror, wooden comb, scraper, powder box, and small wooden comb.
Men’s make-up, although not as elaborate as women’s, but their own pursuit. Today, we will introduce how men makeup in different periods in ancient times.
Qin and Han Dynasties
During the Qin and Han dynasties, men already began to pay attention to the elaboration of hair ornaments and clothing, like the complex and diverse hair-binding rituals of the Qin dynasty, which made it easy to distinguish the status and rank of each person in the way of hair-binding.
In the Han Dynasty, many male tombs were also buried with abundant make-up appliances. In the Han Dynasty, it was recorded in the book “Han Shu • Ning Xing Zhuan (汉书•佞幸传)” that “Lang Shi Zhong (郎侍中)” were ancient civil servants who would dress up when going to court.
Men Makeup in the Wei and Jin Dynasties
If we talk about the real meaning of “men makeup”, in Chinese history, there is only one era in which men have taken appearance management to the extreme. That was the period of Wei, Jin, and North and South Dynasties. This was a time when beautiful men were produced in abundance, such as Wei Jie (卫玠), Pan Yue (潘岳), Li Hongji (李弘治), Xiahou Taichu (侯太初), Jikang (嵇康).
If there is a phrase to describe the pursuit of the physical appearance of men in this period, it is the reach the peak of perfection! During the Wei and Jin dynasties, the wind of powdering was prevalent among the upper-class scholar. In fact, as early as the Han Dynasty, there are records of men putting on powder. The male attendants of Emperor Hui of the Han Dynasty had the rule of “no one is allowed to go on duty without putting on powder”.
In ancient times, two kinds of powder are more commonly used to: one is rice powder, and another is lead powder. Rice powder, needless to say, is a natural foundation made from rice. The material is original, but the production process is extremely elaborate, which is detailed in Jia Siwei’s “Qimin Yaoshu (齐民要术)”. Lead powder, on the other hand, is a branch line industry from the alchemy industry. After processing the lead powder can make people’s appearance brighter and more colorful.
In order to fair-skinned, the Wei and Jin scholars took internal and external medication. After all, applying powder and makeup was a kind of external decoration, and in order to completely improve their skin color, the scholars went to the extent of taking five stone powder (五石散), to achieve a long-term whitening effect. Not only that, they also liked to smoke incense on their clothes, and it was very common to wear incense pouches with them.
Perhaps it is hard to imagine that a fair face, lean physique, and a very tall body fit the aesthetic standards of the famous scholars of the Wei and Jin Dynasties. Compared to the aesthetic orientation of men in the Qin and Han dynasties, the aesthetic standards of the Wei, Jin, and North and South dynasties were more like a deviation.
Kouzhi (口脂, lipstick): Before the Tang Dynasty, lipstick was usually packed in a box. When using it, it needs to be brushed on the lips with a lip brush, which is not convenient. In the Tang Dynasty, lipstick had a certain shape and was in the shape of a tube, which was basically similar to lipstick nowadays. Unlike women’s obsession with lipstick of various colors, the lipstick used by men generally did not contain color, but was a transparent object that mainly served to moisturize the lips, which is what we often call lip balm.
What is more interesting is that in the Tang Dynasty, the lipstick was comparable to the year-end prize. The Tang emperors would give various kinds of lip balm and face balm to officials on La Ri (腊日, the 8th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar) as a token of their appreciation. For example, Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty, as a collector of lipstick, often gave some to important scholars as a reward.
Wearing Zan Hua (簪花, flower pins): in the Song Dynasty, a very characteristic decoration phenomenon of the times emerged, where men would put seasonal flowers or flower-like ornaments in their hair, sideburns, or on their crowns. It was not only a custom for men to wearing flower pins, but also a ritual system. Shen Congwen in “Ancient Chinese Costume Studies” mentioned that in the Song Dynasty, every time there was a ceremony, festival, or imperial trip, the officials and guards would wear flower pins.
Spring peach, summer lotus, autumn chrysanthemum, winter plum, the four seasons of the scene to wear on the temples. It was believed that the flower pins could be used for good fortune, expel diseases and ward off evil spirits, and were a symbol of good luck.
Preference for hair: The love of the beauty of men in the Ming Dynasty was obviously not inferior to that of the previous dynasty. They paid great attention to their image management, always keeping their hair dark and their faces clean, and even a beard was properly placed. Folk men will tie up their hair and wear a net scarf, which can keep the hair flat.
Not only that, Ming Dynasty men were also very good at skincare, after waking up, before going to bed to go through a complete set of skincare processes. The Ming Dynasty man can be called the all-rounder in the world of image management.
The increasing affluence of living conditions has led to a change in the pursuit of aesthetics, with the refined, ebullient, and neutral being hotly sought after. Obviously, the diversification of the male image in the public eye is an inevitable trend of development, and the current neutral aesthetic makes up for the long-standing aesthetic deficiency.
In the pursuit of beauty, regardless of gender, regardless of age. May everyone always retain the ability to find beauty and appreciate it. Because, every life has unique essential characteristics.
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