What Is The Chinese Phoenix Coronet?(8 Detailed Answers)

What Is The Chinese Phoenix Coronet?(8 Detailed Answers)

The Chinese Phoenix Coronet, also known as Fengguan, is a traditional headdress that holds great cultural and historical significance in Chinese tradition. This exquisite headpiece has been worn by noble women and empresses throughout history, representing elegance, beauty, and power. Let's delve into the symbolism, design, and cultural significance of the Chinese Phoenix Coronet.


what is phoenix coronet called?

Fengguan, also known as the phoenix coronet or phoenix hat, is a distinctive type of guan worn by women in traditional Chinese attire, known as Hanfu. This exquisite headpiece holds great cultural and historical significance, especially among noblewomen, for ceremonial and official occasions. Let's explore the grace, symbolism, and cultural importance of Fengguan in the realm of Hanfu fashion.


what are the phoenix coronet made of?

The Ming Dynasty Empress's Phoenix Coronet featured a golden dragon created using the technique of gold thread stacking, as well as a jade phoenix crafted using the technique of "diancui" or "dotting with kingfisher feathers." The Empress's coronet required the traditional handcrafting technique known as "huasi xiangqian." This technique involves melting metals such as gold, silver, and copper into thin wires, which are then manipulated through processes such as wire cutting, weaving, filling, stacking, and soldering to create intricate decorations.


Finally, various inlay techniques are used to embed jewels, jade, and gemstones into the gold and silver ornaments. The blue color seen on the Empress's coronet is created using a technique called "diancui," which refers to the use of blue feathers from the kingfisher bird. During the process, artisans carefully remove the blue feathers from the kingfisher bird and adhere them onto the ornament. While the feathers of the kingfisher bird are visually stunning, modern diancui techniques have replaced them with goose feathers or silk fabric to protect the kingfisher bird.


Overall, the Ming Dynasty Empress's Phoenix Coronet exemplifies the intricate craftsmanship of traditional Chinese jewelry. The combination of gold thread stacking, diancui, and huasi xiangqian techniques showcases the skill and artistry of the craftsmen of that time. The coronet serves as a remarkable piece of cultural heritage, highlighting the opulence and aesthetic beauty of the Ming Dynasty.


The ornaments on the coronet mainly feature dragons and phoenixes. The dragon is created using the technique of gold thread stacking, resulting in a hollow and three-dimensional appearance. The phoenix, on the other hand, is adorned with kingfisher feathers, which provide a long-lasting and vibrant color. The coronet is embellished with various precious gems and stones, with the number varying from crown to crown. The crown with the most embellishments contains 128 gemstones, while the one with the fewest has 95. The number of pearls also varies, ranging from 3,426 to 5,449. The weight of the crowns ranges from 2,165 to 2,905 grams.


The components on the coronet, including the dragons, phoenixes, gemstone flowers, jade clouds, jade leaves, and hairpins, are individually crafted and then inserted into the tubes on the coronet, forming a complete phoenix coronet. The shape of the coronet is dignified, and its craftsmanship includes techniques such as gold thread weaving, inlaying, engraving, diancui, and stringing.


Diancui occupies a significant area on the coronet, with 23 kingfisher phoenixes, as well as hundreds of jade clouds, jade leaves, and jade flowers. The inlaying of gemstones reaches over 400, and the creation of pearl flowers and jewelry strings is also extensive. The final assembly is an extremely complex process, involving the placement of various ornaments, the stringing of thousands of pearls, and the setting of hundreds of gemstones. The arrangement of all these elements on a single coronet requires meticulous planning.


The coronet is adorned with jewelry strings, and the combination of golden dragons, kingfisher phoenixes, and shimmering gemstones creates a magnificent and luxurious display that can only be achieved by exceptional craftsmen. The golden dragons soar amidst jade clouds, while the phoenixes spread their wings among jeweled flowers and leaves.


Overall, the Ming Dynasty Empress's Phoenix Coronet showcases exquisite craftsmanship and a grandiose design. The use of techniques such as gold thread weaving, inlaying, engraving, diancui, and stringing results in a stunning piece of jewelry that embodies the opulence and beauty of the era.


what is phoenix coronet used for?

The Ming Dynasty Phoenix Coronet was a ceremonial headdress worn by the empress during her investiture, temple visits, and court gatherings. It followed the style of the Song Dynasty coronets but was further developed and refined, exuding an even more elegant and luxurious beauty. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, a similar headdress called the "Phoenix Coronet" was also used as an ornamental headpiece by women, particularly during wedding ceremonies.


There are two common misconceptions about the Phoenix Coronet that exist in the minds of most people. Firstly, it is often associated exclusively with the empress's headdress in ancient times, as the empress is often referred to as the "Phoenix." It seems natural to assume that her headdress would be called the "Phoenix Coronet." Secondly, it is mistakenly believed that the Phoenix Coronet Xiàpèi (a long, flowing veil) is the wedding attire worn by affluent women in ancient times.


However, the Phoenix Coronet is not exclusive to empresses. Noblewomen, known as "mìngfù" or "命妇," also wore it on grand occasions, especially during the Song and Ming dynasties when it was particularly popular. During the Qing Dynasty, the Phoenix Coronet Xiàpèi indeed served as the wedding attire for women, but the headdress worn was not the same as the one worn by empresses. It was generally a different type of ornamental headdress.


phoenix coronet style 

There are four Phoenix Coronets unearthed from the Ming Dynasty Emperor Wanli's Dingling Tomb: the "Twelve Dragons Nine Phoenix Coronet," the "Nine Dragons Nine Phoenix Coronet," the "Six Dragons Three Phoenix Coronet," and the "Three Dragons Two Phoenix Coronet." Each of these coronets follows a similar manufacturing process, differing only in the number of decorative dragons and phoenixes. They feature intricate designs, exquisite craftsmanship, and are adorned with numerous pearls and gemstones.


The Six Dragons Three Phoenix Coronet

The Six Dragons Three Phoenix Coronet, worn by Empress Xiaoduan, stands approximately 35.5 centimeters tall with a base diameter of about 20 centimeters. The dragons are entirely made of gold, while the phoenixes are crafted using the "Diancui" technique, which involves attaching emerald bird feathers to the ornament. The crown is embellished with three dragons at the top: one in the center with a jewel in its mouth, facing forward, and two dragons on the sides, soaring outward. Below them are cloud-like ornaments made with the "Huasi" technique, and the dragon heads carry long strings of jewels. In front of the three dragons are three emerald phoenixes, all depicted in a flying posture with slightly shorter jewel droplets in their mouths. The remaining three dragons are positioned on the middle layer of the crown and also appear in a soaring pose. The lower layer of the crown is adorned with various sizes of pearl flowers, featuring red and blue gemstone inlays, surrounded by emerald clouds and leaves. At the back of the crown, there are six "Bobin" ornaments on each side, adorned with a golden dragon, emerald clouds, leaves, and strings of pearls. In total, the coronet contains 128 gemstones (71 rubies and 57 sapphires) and is decorated with 5,449 pearls. The symmetrical arrangement of the dragon-phoenix motifs, along with the vivid poses of the dragons and phoenixes and the brilliant colors of the gemstones and emeralds, bestow a sense of elegance, grandeur, and harmony to the Phoenix Coronet, showcasing the noble status of the empress.


The Three Dragons Two Phoenix Coronet

 The Three Dragons Two Phoenix Coronet, worn by Empress Xiaojing, measures approximately 26.5 centimeters in height and 23 centimeters in diameter. It features over a hundred red and blue gemstones and more than 5,000 pearls, displaying vibrant colors and a magnificent appearance, making it a crown of treasures. 

Nine Dragons Nine Phoenix Coronet

The Nine Dragons Nine Phoenix Coronet, worn by Empress Xiaoduan, stands 27 centimeters tall, has a diameter of 23.7 centimeters, and weighs 2,320 grams. It is embellished with over 3,500 pearls and more than 150 gemstones of various colors. The crown is constructed with a bamboo framework covered in lacquer, with the fabric made of silk and satin. It features nine golden dragons with jewel droplets in their mouths and eight golden phoenixes, as well as one golden phoenix at the back. The lower part of the crown is adorned with elaborate pearl flowers, and the entire composition is complemented by emerald clouds, leaves, and three "Bobin" ornaments on each side. This luxurious coronet contains over a hundred red gemstones, over 5,000 pearls, and is a symbol of opulence and splendor.


The Twelve Dragons Nine Phoenix Coronet

The Twelve Dragons Nine Phoenix Coronet, worn by Empress Xiaojing, showcases twelve dragons and nine phoenixes. The top section features one dragon, the middle layer includes seven dragons and five phoenixes, and the back has one dragon on top and three dragons below. Each side of the crown features one phoenix at the top and one at the bottom. The dragons are depicted in various postures, such as soaring, standing on all fours, walking, or galloping, while the phoenixes are portrayed with extended wings. The dragons and phoenixes carry jewel droplets in their mouths, and the dragon's lower section is adorned with pearl flowers. Each jewel in the flowers is surrounded by a circle or two of pearls. Additionally, there are 90 emerald clouds and 74 emerald leaves interspersed between the dragons and phoenixes. The crown is adorned with a jewel-encrusted band above the gold band, with gold bars along the edges and 12 gemstones embedded in the center. Surrounding each gemstone are six pearls, with pearl flowers interspersed between the gemstones. The crown features six "Bobin" ornaments, each adorned with a golden dragon, two gemstone flowers, three pearl flowers, and hanging pearl strings. In total, the coronet contains 121 gemstones, 3,588 pearls, and 18 small rubies embedded as the phoenix's eyes.


phoenix coronet meaning

Among the many head ornaments in ancient China, the Phoenix Coronet is widely known and admired by women. It is a special crown worn by the empress and imperial concubines, adorned with phoenix-shaped jewels, showcasing elegance and luxury. The Phoenix Coronet is highly regarded as a prestigious headdress for ancient Chinese women. Wearing the "Xiapei" and donning the Phoenix Coronet represented the greatest honor for women in ancient times.


Generally speaking, the Phoenix Coronet is part of the traditional ceremonial attire in China, but this tradition varied across different eras. Nevertheless, the Phoenix Coronet always symbolizes the "most noble woman," with each variation showcasing its unique beauty.


The Phoenix Coronet is an exquisite headpiece and a traditional ornament for women in ancient China, exuding an aura of dignity. The phoenix is a representative symbol of Chinese culture, symbolizing auspiciousness, wealth, and beauty. Therefore, the Phoenix Coronet represents the beauty, nobility, and blessings of women.


Symbolism and Meaning:

In Chinese culture, the phoenix is a mythical creature symbolizing grace, virtue, and prosperity. The phoenix is often associated with the empress, representing the highest status and power in the imperial court. The coronet, adorned with phoenix motifs and other intricate designs, embodies the majestic aura of the phoenix and represents the divine feminine energy.


Design and Construction:

The Chinese Phoenix Coronet is meticulously crafted using precious materials such as gold, silver, jade, and gemstones. It is designed as a crown-like headpiece with a circular base that rests on top of the head. The front of the coronet features a prominent phoenix motif, with its wings outstretched and its tail cascading down the sides of the head. Delicate filigree work, engravings, and intricate patterns of flowers, dragons, and other auspicious symbols adorn the coronet, adding to its regal beauty.


Cultural Significance:

The Chinese Phoenix Coronet holds deep cultural significance in various aspects. Firstly, it represents the status and power of the wearer. Only empresses and noble women of high rank were privileged to wear such a headdress, signifying their position in the imperial hierarchy. The coronet also reflects the cultural values of beauty, femininity, and grace that were highly revered in ancient Chinese society.


Furthermore, the Chinese Phoenix Coronet serves as a symbol of marital bliss and harmony. It is often worn by brides during traditional wedding ceremonies, representing a union between the bride and groom, and symbolizing good fortune, longevity, and prosperity for the couple's future.


The craftsmanship involved in creating a Chinese Phoenix Coronet is a testament to the rich heritage of traditional Chinese arts and crafts. The intricate details, fine metalwork, and gemstone embellishments demonstrate the skill and artistry of the artisans who meticulously create these exquisite pieces.


In modern times, the Chinese Phoenix Coronet continues to hold cultural significance and is often showcased in museums, cultural exhibitions, and traditional ceremonies. It serves as a reminder of China's rich history, its reverence for tradition, and the enduring beauty of its cultural herita



phoenix coronet history

The so-called "凤冠" (fèngguān) should actually be called "凤形冠饰" (fèngxíng guànshì) or "phoenix-shaped headdress." Nowadays, people are accustomed to pairing "凤" (fèng) with "龙" (lóng) as a pair. This is the result of a long-standing struggle between the ancient dragon-worshipping tribes and phoenix-worshipping clans, which eventually merged into the unified Huaxia tribe. The phoenix's status is subordinate to that of the dragon due to the victory of the dragon-worshipping Zhou tribe over the phoenix-worshipping Shang tribe, which lasted for 800 years in the Central Plains.


The phoenix-worshipping Ying-Qin dynasty perished after only two generations, with a short lifespan. The one who unified China afterward was Liu Bang, who rose to power with the revival of the dragon totem. He fabricated the myth of being the son of the red dragon and established the deception that emperors were the "true dragon sons." The strength and long-term rule of the Han dynasty ultimately solidified the primary and secondary positions of the dragon and phoenix.


The ancestral worship of the Ying-Qin dynasty was focused on bird totems, as recorded in the "Records of the Grand Historian." Therefore, when Emperor Qin Shi Huang conquered the six states, he did not raise dragon flags but instead "raised the flag of the emerald phoenix." It is said that the practice of palace concubines wearing phoenix hairpins also originated from Emperor Qin Shi Huang.


The phoenix hairpin, phoenix-shaped jade cup, and other phoenix-shaped accessories were predecessors of the phoenix headdress. According to historical records, the practice of palace concubines wearing phoenix hairpins originated from Emperor Qin Shi Huang. "Zhonghua Ancient and Modern Annotations" states: "Emperor Qin Shi Huang used gold and silver to make a phoenix head, used tortoiseshell for the feet, and called it a phoenix hairpin."


By the Han dynasty, the ceremonial attire for the Empress Dowager and Empress when paying respects to ancestral temples already included phoenix decorations on the head. During the Wei-Jin and Northern and Southern Dynasties, the step-shake dance and hairpins often featured the image of a phoenix with a bead in its mouth, swaying gracefully on top of cloud-like hairstyles.


The term "凤冠" (fèngguān) first appeared in Wang Jia's "Records of the Collection of Forgotten Tales" during the Eastern Jin period. It describes Shijilun instructing craftsmen to make a "phoenix headdress" using jade and gold, "with a jade pendant resembling a phoenix crown." Here, it is mentioned that the phoenix headdress requires the decoration of a gold hairpin, indicating that it had already become a combined head ornament. However, at this time, the form and name of the "凤冠" (fèngguān) were not yet included in the imperial ceremonial system and remained exclusive headdresses for imperial consorts.


During the Tang dynasty, palace maids were already wearing "凤冠" (fèngguān). In volume 180 of the "Book of Music," it is mentioned: "Emperor Xuanzong of Tang created the Glorious Sacred Music and Dance. There were eighty dancers wearing phoenix crowns and colorful embroidered garments." In archaeological discoveries, there are also depictions of palace maids wearing "凤冠" (fèngguān). For example, on the stone coffin of Prince Yide of Tang, there are two palace maids wearing tall crowns with phoenix-shaped gold hairpins. The phoenix's beak holds long tassels, and beneath the tassels, there are swaying ornaments. However, according to the etiquette norms of the time, women were not supposed to wear crowns. The "Tang Liudian" records that the attire of empresses and secondary consorts consisted of "decorative hairpins and ceremonial clothing" without crowns. Li Shangyin's "Biography of Yidu Neiren" states: "Changed from hairpins and bracelets to clothing and crowns... truly an emperor." This indicates that at that time, it was not the norm for women's attire to include crowns, but there was a growing trend of crown-wearing among women.


During the Song dynasty, the tradition of women wearing crowns was prevalent, including white horn crowns, tuan crowns, and shoulder-worn crowns. The Song dynasty's phoenix headdress evolved from the tuan crown, with influences from the transformations between the Tang and Song periods and the evolution of the phoenix itself as a headdress. It was during the Song dynasty that the phoenix headdress was officially designated as ceremonial attire and incorporated into the headdress system for imperial consorts. The "History of the Song Dynasty - Department of Transportation and Attire" records that during significant occasions such as the Empress Dowager's enthronement or paying respects at the Jingling Palace, the Song dynasty's imperial consorts were required to wear the prescribed phoenix headdress.


In the Ming dynasty, the empresses continued to wear the phoenix headdress during sacrificial ceremonies and court meetings, following the Song dynasty's tradition. In the early Ming period, the phoenix headdress for imperial consorts was designed based on the dragon-phoenix flower hairpin crown worn by the Song dynasty empress, sharing similarities with the Song dynasty's phoenix headdress but with further developments.


Compared to previous dynasties, the phoenix headdress for imperial consorts during the Qing dynasty underwent significant changes, particularly the absence of dragon decorations. In the "Qing Dynasty Code of Rites" from the Qianlong reign, it is recorded that the empress wore a headdress adorned with phoenixes: "The headdress is adorned with phoenixes, with four high tiers. The top is adorned with a large eastern pearl, while the three lower tiers are strung with three eastern pearls each. The golden phoenixes are engraved, and each phoenix is adorned with three eastern pearls. Additionally, seven golden phoenixes are attached to the front left and right of the headdress."


Who wore the Phoenix crown?


The Phoenix crown was primarily worn by imperial consorts and high-ranking noblewomen in ancient China. It was considered a symbol of beauty, nobility, and blessings. The exact regulations and customs surrounding the wearing of the Phoenix crown varied across different dynasties and time periods. Generally, it was a part of the ceremonial attire for women of high status, particularly during important occasions such as imperial ceremonies, ancestral worship, and court meetings. The specific individuals who wore the Phoenix crown included empresses, empress dowagers, imperial concubines, and other female members of the imperial family. It was a prestigious and exclusive headdress reserved for those within the imperial hierarchy.


how to make phoenix coronet?

The Phoenix crown, also known as the Phoenix-shaped headdress, is adorned with dragon and phoenix motifs. The dragon is crafted using intricate gold wire filigree techniques, creating a three-dimensional and hollow effect. The phoenix, on the other hand, is decorated with emerald bird feathers, providing vibrant and lasting colors. The crown is embellished with various pearls, gemstones, and jewels, with the number and weight differing on each crown. The most adorned crown may have had 128 gemstones and 5,449 pearls, while the least adorned crown had 95 gemstones and 3,426 pearls. The crown is adorned with dragon and phoenix motifs, jewel flowers, emerald clouds, emerald leaves, and decorative hairpins. These components are individually crafted and then inserted into the crown's sockets, creating a complete phoenix crown.


The Phoenix crown has a dignified and exquisite design, incorporating various techniques such as filigree work, inlaying, engraving, jadeite embellishment, and stringing. Jadeite embellishment is particularly prominent, with the presence of 23 jade phoenixes, as well as numerous emerald clouds, leaves, and flowers. Over 400 gemstones are inlaid, and there are numerous pearl flowers and jewel strings.


The final assembly is an extremely complex process. The placement of each ornament, the stringing of thousands of pearls, and the setting of hundreds of gemstones require meticulous arrangement. The crown is adorned with jewel strings, with golden dragons, emerald phoenixes, and shimmering jewels, creating a magnificent and splendid appearance that can only be achieved by skilled craftsmen. Golden dragons soar and leap on emerald clouds, while the phoenix spreads its wings and flies among the jewel flowers and leaves.


During the Song Dynasty, the Phoenix crown was made of silver and adorned with dragon and phoenix motifs, as well as various gemstone decorations. According to the "Yufu Zhi" in the "History of the Song Dynasty," the empress wore a large crown with dragon and phoenix motifs, adorned with jewels and decorated with twenty-four dragon and phoenix flowers, as well as various sizes of flowers. The crown of the crown princess was adorned with eighteen flowers but did not have dragon and phoenix motifs.


In the Ming Dynasty, the Phoenix crown was made with a gold wire net as its base, adorned with phoenix motifs and hanging jewel tassels. According to the regulations of the Hongwu reign, the empress's crown was adorned with emerald on the outer circular frame, embellished with nine dragons and four phoenixes, as well as twelve large and twelve small flowers. Two "bo bin" ornaments were attached on each side of the crown, with twelve flower hairpins.


During the Qing Dynasty, the costume differed significantly from the Ming Dynasty, but the tradition of incorporating phoenix motifs on female crowns continued. The crown was made with a base of sable fur or blue silk, covered with red silk, and adorned with seven golden phoenixes. The top of the crown featured three overlapping golden phoenixes, each adorned with a pearl on its head. Additionally, a golden tassel with several rows of pearls hung from the back of the crown.



In conclusion, the Chinese Phoenix Coronet stands as a testament to the elegance, power, and cultural significance of Chinese tradition. Its symbolic representation of the phoenix, intricate design, and use of precious materials make it a cherished artifact of Chinese culture. Whether worn by empresses of ancient times or brides on their wedding day, the coronet continues to captivate with its beauty, carrying forward the legacy of Chinese craftsmanship and cultural heritage.


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