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Tang Dynasty Face

Our family’s Chinese Ancestry keeps me curious about the culture. I recently discovered a great deal about the court ladies makeup routines.

The period of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) is considered to be a Golden Age in Chinese History. It certainly was for beauty.

Wall murals found in ancient tombs show that Tang Dynasty women wore heavy rouge, often covering the cheek from the temple to the jawline, referred to as “red clouds at dawn.” This look is associated with the legend of a female musician who accidentally bruised her face on a crystal screen, leaving a rosy cloud-like mark on her face. Gorgeousness.

The Tang Dynasty elite also popularized painting their lips into a small cherry-like shape. The poet Meng Qi (孟棨) wrote, “Fan Su has a rosy mouth like a cherry.”

Both lip colors and rouge were made from vermillion, a red or scarlet pigment originally derived from powdered mineral cinnabar. This was mixed with animal fat and then scented with a powder made from grinding up the plate that closes mollusk shells.

Of the many lip shapes in vogue, the cherry lip shape seems to have been a favorite of makeup artists of the time. Interestingly, the full lip was never completely covered as we do today. Which is your favorite shape?

Art Credits: The Turpan Astana Tomb Murals - Tulufan, Xinjiang, China.

The communal burial grounds of the Han Chinese - Western Jin Dynasty (265-316) to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).


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