About Bu: This is my 3rd year in the SCA. My persona is Tang Dynasty lady. My ADHD tends to see me wander all over the Dynasty in my studies though most of the outfits I’ve made have been inspired by early Tang paintings. Chose the non-historic option as high quality silk is outside of my price range. Also, we really don’t know how some of the items were made. Hoping to try to do more actual hand sewing this time instead of my usual reliance on my sewing machine.
Her Project: I want to make a Tang Dynasty style ruqin in the heraldic colors of my Barony. These are royal blue and black. Hoping this project will give me a new outfit to wear when serving their Excellencies in court.
About Yuchi: I believe it was 2017 or 2018, so I’m fairly new to the SCA. This is my first persona and I’m loving it. I sew occasionally but almost always stick to easy skirts and nothing with sleeves. I recently started learning embroidery in the last 3 months. I love archery and will be shooting in this outfit that I make.
Her Project: China, 8th century, Tang Dynasty. I am basing my garb from a painting called Tang court ladies, 706 AD, housed at the Qianling Mausoleum and the painting called Zhang Xuan, Palace Ladies Pounding Silk. I would like to put my heraldry on the shawl and hezi. I have not done embroidery on silky material before so the shawl will be a challenge. I have tried to make the skirt before, but it went unfinished. This will be an adventure. I wish to do a painting for level 4. It will be a learning experience since I’ve not painted for over 10 years.
Undergarments for 8th Century Tang Dynasty China. All persons, including children, could wear a hezi, a silk or cloth material the covered the front of the chest reaching down to the stomach to keep the chest warm and covered for the ladies. The hezi had a back that was low, so it wouldn’t show above the skirt dress. Modesty was important. The hezi was usually red and could contain embroidery/painting that expressed the feelings or desires of the woman. Pictures included animals, flowers, etc. The hezi of the Tang was strapless and tied at the top with a cord/ribbon to hold it up. It was strapless due to the skirt dresses that was worn at the time. The making: undergarments were intimate and there were few pictures. I found some descriptions and obtained a Hanfu Pattern Making (Imperial) by TT Duong. I went by the pictures in the book and online to create an outline, took my measurements and cut the back and front on the folds. I embroidered my device on the front. I had sewed all edges until I tried it on and found it too large. I remeasured and cut the back middle and machine sewed it. I then made a red cord to tie around to hold up the hezi.
The pants, or Kun, come in different styles. Some were unisex and others were specifically for the man or woman. The making: Since woman’s undergarments were basically secretive, I went by the picture of men’s pants to start. Then I used the Hanfu Pattern Making book again to make woman’s pants. I have sew the pants specifically for woman and used string instead of a cord in order to tie to hold the pants up. There are two pants, both cut on a fold. The two are then sewn together and the top sewn to hold a cord/ribbon. I used a white cord. The pants turned out perfect and didn’t need adjustments.
All classes and professions would have a hezi and pants or pants for you for men. What I would have done differently was that after sewing the hezi, I then found more research that the hezi was sometimes made with slightly elastic material. I would have probably used this kind of material to have the hezi fit more favorably.
During the Tang Dynasty of China, between the under garments and the dress a shirt is worn. It is called the zhongyi, and is the second layer that I made. This shirt was meant to be worn on the inside of clothing or as a pajama top and was usually white. For daily wear, the sleeves are narrow. Upon formal occasions, the sleeves are wider. All social classes would have had a zhongyi to wear.
Using the book: Hanfu Pattern Making (Imperial) by TT Duong, I was about to draw a rough pattern. I used my measurements to put it to size and going by the painting “Palace Ladies Pounding Silk” I tried to create the shape/curvature needed.
During the Tang Dynasty China, there were two outfits for woman: a top with a skirt that went from the waist to the floor and then a top that was covered by a skirt that tied at the chest and went down to the floor. The later is the piece I’ve made and is called a Ruqun.
I started with the front and back panels so that I could accurately measure how much material I would need for the front and back with the one inch folds on each side. I attached the ribbons so that the dress can be tied on. The back panel ribbons only need to come around once and be tied. The front panel ribbons had to be longer because they wrap around the back, are pulled back to the front where they are tied once and the ribbon is looped back on itself before being pulled into a loop to hang. Next I ran a stitch across the top of the skirt to hold the folds in place before tucking the skirt up into each panel where I’d left an opening. I folded the panel over the skirt and sewed the bottom across. The sides were then sewn up, leaving enough of a gap to accommodate stepping into the skirt to pull it up. Lastly I hemmed the skirt.
Clothing was made from silk and linen unless you were poor, then your clothes were probably made from animal skins. The above clothing was made from silk.
During 8th Century Tang Dynasty, the people were using silk, bamboo and other lighter materials in order to write on. I was going to make bamboo paper since I have bamboo trees in the yard, but didn’t trust myself with taking the bark off. The Chinese people would cut the bamboo trees down, cut off any branches and use a blade, some times curved, to removed the bark. The bamboo was then soaked and pounded into a pulp. The pulp was added to water, then using a thin screen, it was scooped up. Water would drain off leaving the wet pulp on the screen. The contents was laid out layered between a type of cloth or on top of each other where it was then pressed to remove excess water. Then it was left to dry. After drying, the layers were peeled off and you had paper.
I used shredded paper that I blended with water in a blender. I added the pulp to a container of water, used two picture frames I had gutted and placed a piece of door screening on with a stapler. The initial paper was thick and a bland color so I added purple coloring. I also added lavender and rosemary for smell and texture.
The Chinese people valued poems and often had various works of art, poems, sayings and teachings around their homes and places of business. I decided on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star nursery rhyme because I could correctly pronounce it in Chinese and remember what I had written. Learning the stoke techniques was even more of a challenge. I did a few practice runs and watched some videos of actual Chinese painting and calligraphy classes taught by native Chinese. I did my best to remember the strokes. But it does test your patience and posture. Normally the author would stamp their name with a name block. I didn’t have one, therefore, I used a wax seal to add some character and fill in the empty space on the left.