Elevated Hair

Recreation of a Dunhuang donor portrait by The Chinese Historical Costume Restoration Team.

I knew I would need to use some false hair for my elevation in order to get the look I wanted.

Quick recap – Tang Dynasty ladies loved elaborate, up-do hair styles that often called for padding or false hair (called “adopted hair”) to achieve the looks we see in statuary, murals, and paintings. For a more detailed look at the three basic kinds of hairdressing (hair, false hair, and headdresses), Zhang Jianhin’s essay in The Tomb of Li Chui is a good place to start. For images of modern recreations of these hair styles, see Hair Fashions of Tang Dynasty Women, by He, Jian’guo (何建國) or this guide to recreating historic Chinese hairstyles.

I even found a tutorial on BiliBili, China’s largest video-sharing platform (like YouTube), but when I sat down to try and make it, I was a million thumbs. I couldn’t get the hair to behave at all the way that the person in the video did, and I was getting really frustrated.

That’s when Phaedra de Vere came to my rescue. She offered to make it for me, and I gratefully accepted, sending her money and measurements and crossing it off my list, knowing that I was in good hands.

Phaedra made the hairpiece out of wire and hair donuts, covering it with layers of faux wefts color matched my (current) hair color (Arda CL-070).

The hairpiece’s bones – hair donuts that have been cut and put onto a wire frame.
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The finished hairpiece, with hair nets to fight flyaways.
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The guts of the hairpiece – space enough for me to tuck a bun into it, with an arrow indicating the front.

She’s absolutely stunning. Heavy – but stunning! And aptly now named “Phae” in honor of her creator.

Me, during the elevation ceremony. Picture courtesy Sir Conal MacDale

I’ll be writing another post about the various accessories I wore in my hair, courtesy of some truly awesome artisans.

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