This year’s large-scale costume Chinese historical drama Serenade of Peaceful Joy (清平乐, Qingpingyue) has attracted a lot of attention from the production team, plot settings, cast, costumes, props, and set pieces.
The drama has highly restored various scenes of Song dynasty life and characters, creating an ancient simplicity and elegance, which takes the audience back to the time of the prosperous Song dynasty.
Today, let’s revisit “Serenade of Peaceful Joy”, starting with the ancient Song dynasty costumes, and experience the beauty and comfort of the Song Dynasty once again.
Experience the beauty of ancient Song Dynasty costumes
Historical elements can be seen in the costumes, makeup, and props in the drama “Qing Ping Le”. From the emperor’s clothing of Song Renzong, Zhao Zhen (赵祯, played by Wang Kai) at the grand court meeting, to the exquisite headdress and makeup of Empress, Cao Danshu (曹丹姝, played by Jiang Shu Ying) at her wedding, everything is very elaborate and almost 1:1 restored with the historical portrait of Song Dynasty. The two special ancient Song dynasty costumes mentioned in the drama, let us also get to know them today.
Gunfu (衮服, gǔn fú)
In the drama, in the last year of the Empress Dowager Liu E’s reign behind the curtain, she insists on wearing a Gunfu to participate in sacrifice, which is opposed by the courtiers. Why was it opposed by courtiers? That’s because a Gunfu suit is not a normal garment, it’s a symbol of the emperor and most distinguished dress, which can only be worn during major events.
The main body of the traditional Chinese Gunfu is divided into two parts: the upper and lower garment, the upper is decorated with the sun (日), moon (月), stars (星辰), mountains (山), dragons (龍), Hua Chong (華蟲), Zongyi (宗彝), algae (藻), fire (火), rice (粉米), Fu(黼), Fú (黻), called twelve Zhangwen (十二章纹), each pattern has a corresponding representative meaning. As well as Bixi (蔽膝), Gedai (革带, belt), Dadai (大带) and other accessories.
Huiyi (袆衣, huī yī)
Equally classic in terms of dress and makeup was the formal dress that Cao Danshu wore when she was crowned Empress: Huiyi. Huiyi was the most luxurious and prestigious gown worn by the Empress, made of dark woven fabric and worn only for the ceremony of ordination and worship, to reflect the Empress’ solemnity as a matriarch.
Song dynasty empress of Huiyi compared with the previous dynasty, there is not much difference in color, but in the pattern of color scheme, the Song dynasty will be softer, with delicate workmanship, in the accessories also differ, crown with pearl embellishment, more fine, gorgeous.
Women’s daily wear
The women of the Song Dynasty advocated simplicity, rigor, subtlety, and quietness in their daily clothing choices. They wore short, narrow-sleeved clothes on top, long skirts on the bottom, and a parallel opening long shirt (Beizi, 褙子). In terms of colors and patterns, they prefer less saturated colors, which is also the aesthetic concept of “harmony between people and clothes” pursued by Song women.
As shown in the daily clothes worn by the women in the drama, we can see that their clothing colors are mostly green, light pink, light yellow, white, silver-gray, lotus root color, and other colors, not grand and strong momentum, but from the plain can feel the beauty of innocence, ethereal and elegant state of mind.
The exquisite diet of Song people and life
In “Qing Ping Le”, in addition to a glimpse of Northern Song culture through beautiful ancient Song Dynasty costumes, the food and local culture that can be seen everywhere also shows us the lifestyle and customs of Northern Song people. From palace meals to market snacks, lamb wine(羊羔酒), Baiwei soup(百味羹), fish paste and corn soup(鱼蓉粟米羹), and broiled lamb(炙羊肉), a dazzling array of dishes that display the Song’s “Gourmet Paradise” moniker.
Including what we are now eating red braised pork, candied fruit, dumplings and other kinds of food snacks, mostly invented or popular in the Song Dynasty, such as the great literary Su Dongpo and the name “Dongpo pork (东坡肉)”, not only has been the love of modern people, with the spread of a good story.
Song people not only love to eat and know how to eat, but also know how to live. Before the Song Dynasty, curfew was imposed in all dynasties and no one was allowed to go out at night. It wasn’t until the Song Dynasty that the curfew system was reformed. As with modern times, the Song dynasty night market had a variety of food stalls as well as restaurants and teahouses that welcomed visitors day and night.
In the drama, Song Ren Zong took his ministers and princesses to visit the night market to see the world he ruled and listen to the people’s voices. Of course, occasionally the emperor also heard about himself, and the stories of the emperor were treated as after-dinner gossip by the people, officials’ political views and poems were openly discussed, and there was a peaceful and prosperous scene.
The Song dynasty, an era of prosperity and amazement, whose beauty and comfort went far beyond the culture of dress and the ease of life, not only embodied the culture of the Song dynasty, but also left us with much room for imagination and creativity.