History of Peizhui – Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

When we introduced the Xiapei during the Song and Ming dynasties, we mentioned that the Xiapei hangs flat in front of the chest. The creation of Hanfu ornament: “Peizhui (帔坠)” is to ensure that the Xiapei (霞帔) is flattened in front of women’s chest and belly when they move, maintaining a dignified image.

Nowadays, you can often see girls who like Ming-style Hanfu hanging their Peizhui pendant around their neck for decoration. As an important part of Song and Ming women’s costumes, the historical Peizhui pendant is integrated with the Xiapei, which serves the function of beautifying decoration and distinguishing social hierarchy.

In the excavated tombs of Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties, the silk fabric of Xiapei is not easy to be preserved, but the gold, silver, and jade quality of Peizhui has been preserved. Today, let’s learn more about Peizhui pendant, a precious Hanfu ornament!

Peizhui is usually made of two patterned curved pieces that are fastened together and attached to the end of the Xiapei in front of the body. The patterns are mostly hollow, often mistaken for scented sachet when unearthed earlier.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

The Peizhui unearthed in Song, Yuan, and Ming tombs are mainly made of gold, silver, silver gilt, and jade, with gold and silver as the main texture. The shape of Peizhui is mainly the chicken heart, but also round, fish, hexagonal, horseshoe, etc.

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Song Dynasty Peizhui

The Song Peizhui was basically tied to the lower end of the Xiapei, and according to the documentary records, the imperial consorts in the Song Dynasty used jade Peizhui, which was very different from the Ming Dynasty.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

As far as known examples are concerned, the earliest unearthed is a golden Peizhui with phoenix & peony pattern from the Northern Song tomb at Shoufu Mountain in Nanjing. Later unearthed Peizhui were largely similar in size and shape to this one.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

Although Peizhui has been around since the Northern Song Dynasty, but became popular in the Southern Song Dynasty.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

Peizhui from Southern Song Dynasty

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

In ancient times, some women from wealthy families also wore golden Peizhui. It is evident that the Peizhui in Song Dynasty was not strictly divided into different ranks, and the costume system was not strictly enforced, so it was widely used and became part of the social fashion. The system could not stop women from pursuing beauty.

The Peizhui is one of the most valued folk ornaments. The Mengliang Record of Wu Zimu (梦梁录, 吴自牧) recorded that Peizhui was one of the marriage gifts prepared by rich and noble families in the Southern Song Dynasty.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

The double carp pattern or double carp shaped Peizhui was found in Song tombs. Carp is an auspicious object for marriage in the Southern Song Dynasty, and the double carp on the Peizhui may have such a meaning, which may be related to marriage.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

double carp pattern Peizhui

Moreover, in the Song Dynasty, good folk masters were sometimes summoned to work in the palace, which was a golden sign for the masters – not only to prove their craftsmanship, but also to bring back the “royal style” that was at the forefront of fashion. This “royal style” tends to become popular very quickly, therefore, the Song Dynasty Peizhui did not have a distinctive hierarchy in their patterns, and the royal women’s Peizhui were often imitated by folk.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

Peizhui from Yuan Dynasty

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Ming Dynasty Peizhui

Ming Dynasty Peizhui is also called “Zhui Tou (坠头, pendant head)”, generally about 9 cm high, decorated with a variety of auspicious patterns, common single birds. Some are attached with hooks in the shape of present-day ear hooks, called “Diao Quan (钓圈)”, which are more convenient to wear.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

Early Ming Peizhui:

The Ming dynasty costume system also has restrictions on the material of Peizhui: in the “History of Ming dynasty – Yufuzhi (明史·舆服志)”, for the customization of the empress’s informal dress: “Three years of Hongwu (1370) set: yellow Dashan (大衫), dark blue Xiapei, gold woven with cloud and dragon pattern, decorated with pendants of beads and jades, engraved with dragon pattern.”

The fourth year of the Hongwu was also set: for all external Mingfu (外命妇, women who were given titles because their husbands or sons), the first grade should use the jade pendant, the second grade to the fifth grade should use the gold pendant, the sixth grade to the seventh grade should use the gold-plated silver pendant, and the eighth grade to the ninth grade should use the silver pendant.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

It can be said that the early-Ming dynasty stipulated every aspect of Peizhui in detail – in short, follow the grade and never use them indiscriminately.

The highest grade Peizhui has been found in Dingling (定陵). This peach-shaped gold Peizhui with pearl, 16.5cm high, handle length 19.1cm, 172.5g, body peach-shaped, engraved with two dragons playing with pearls and seawater cliff and cloud pattern, inlaid with a pearl in the middle to symbolize the fire pearl.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

The top of this Peizhui is connected by a gold chain to a four-leaf clumped receptacle, with fine gold veins on the leaves, a gemstone inlaid in the center of each leaf, two pieces of ruby, and two pieces of sapphire, and connected to the hook by a gold chain. This Peizhui is exquisitely designed and made of precious materials, and the specifications are very high.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

Late Ming Peizhui:

In the late Ming Dynasty, the occasions for wearing Xiapei have changed, not only in formal dresses, but also in matching Jifu (吉服) or Cifu (赐服). It is worth noting that the shape of Xiapei has changed in the late Ming Dynasty, the V-shaped lower part is sewn together and becomes W-shaped, can be hung with multiple Peizhui hanging symmetrically.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

During the late Ming Dynasty, the economy, culture, and concept of the society have changed greatly, especially the rapid development of the commodity economy in Jiangnan, women are more involved in family affairs including business and labor. As the social atmosphere becomes slightly more open, people pay more attention to dress etiquette and individuality, and the form of Peizhui becomes more diversified.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

Many bureaucrats and rich folk make their own Peizhui, compared with the royal Peizhui, the private Peizhui is closer to life and is made of silver, silver-gilt, jade, and other materials, in a variety of colors, which is not as good as the royal Peizhui, but still reflects the ingenuity of craftsmanship in its simplicity. In this period, the two types of Peizhui co-exist, which are both elegant and inclusive. In the Qing Dynasty, the form of the Xiapei changed, with the lower end draped with tassels, and the Peizhui retired from the historical stage.

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On the whole, the Peizhui has gone through a process of tightening and relaxing from birth to disappearance. Although small, the Peizhui is a distinctive expression of social life and political rituals.

History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament History of Peizhui - Most Exquisite Hanfu Ornament

The ancient Peizhui is rich in various forms, fine craftsmanship, and meanings, integrating Chinese traditional culture, wedding customs, religious beliefs, aesthetics, and creations, etc. It is a unique glory of the times. Even today, Peizhui are not outdated, and may find a place in Hanfu ornament and modern jewelry in the future.

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