What Are Chinese Hair Pins?-Fa Zan

What Are Chinese Hair Pins?-Fa Zan

The hairpin is an ancient hair accessory and a crystallization of wisdom among the Han Chinese people in ancient China. It's typically crafted from materials such as metal, bone, or jade, presenting various shapes, some elongated, others crescent-shaped, and even resembling flowers. The length and thickness of hairpins also vary across different eras and regions.


Chinese hair pins meaning


The hairpin of the Han ethnic group is an ancient and exquisite hair accessory with profound historical and cultural significance. It is often crafted from materials like metal, jade, or bone, displaying diverse shapes—some elongated, others crescent-shaped, and some resembling flowers. The length and thickness of hairpins vary across different periods and regions.


In ancient times, the hairpin was a significant adornment for women, widely used in both the imperial court and among the common people. Women would often secure their hair by inserting hairpins into their hair bun, showcasing their beauty and status. Simultaneously, the hairpin served as a symbol, representing the position and power of women in both the household and society.


The craftsmanship of Han hairpins is highly refined, with meticulous attention given to every detail through careful polishing and carving. Intricate patterns and decorative elements, such as flowers, birds, landscapes, and figures, are commonly carved onto the surface of hairpins. These designs not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also carry rich cultural symbolism.


Moreover, Han hairpins possess significant artistic value. They are not merely practical hair accessories but also considered artistic pieces. In ancient times, hairpins were seen as a symbol of female beauty and widely incorporated into various art forms like poetry, novels, and paintings. Many literati depicted the beautiful imagery of women adorning hairpins through eloquent language.


In modern society, although hairpins have gradually faded from view, they continue to retain a unique charm. Many designers and artisans create exquisite hairpin pieces, catering to people's pursuit of beauty. Additionally, some enthusiasts of traditional culture wear hairpins to showcase their cultural heritage and personal charisma.


Chinese hair pin history

As early as the pre-Qin period, records of hairpins existed, primarily made of gold, silver, or wooden materials. Ancestors during the Neolithic era possessed rich life experiences and craftsmanship, utilizing natural materials to create tools and implements, establishing various material cultures associated with production and daily life. Among these, the production and use of hairpins were crucial aspects. Hairpins worn by ancient women have been frequently unearthed in archaeological excavations. For instance, in the autumn of 1978, a human skeleton was unearthed from an ancient tomb in Xiangfen, Shanxi Province, dating back to the Neolithic period, with a bone hairpin inserted at the top of the skull.


By the Xia, Shang, and Zhou periods, numerous types of hairpins had emerged, ranging from those made of gold and jade to those crafted from wood. Gold hairpins were the most common, often featuring a conical or horseshoe-shaped design, primarily adorning the hairstyles of noblewomen.


During the Han Dynasty, women preferred to tie their hair high and secure it with hairpins. Additionally, from the Han Dynasty onward, hairpins were also referred to as 'zhi.' Apart from the commonly seen hairpins, the Qin and Han periods witnessed the emergence of various other types of hairpins, such as the 'buyao' and 'zhancai.'


In the Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties, and Ten Kingdoms periods, both the form and craftsmanship of hairpins underwent development. Tang Dynasty hairpins continued to employ techniques like silk weaving and introduced several new crafts, including metal-crafted flower hairpins, tortoiseshell-inlaid silk-threaded spiral hairpins, copper and silver filigree bird-and-flower hairpins, gold and silver flower hairpins, and more.


In summary, the history of hairpins dates back to ancient times. They not only symbolize female beauty but also signify status and identity.



Chinese hair pin styles

The types of hairpins are diverse and mainly include the following:


Single-Stick Hairpin: A single stick-shaped body, commonly crafted from materials like metal, wood, bone, or horn.

Hair Clasp: A U-shaped double-stick body, more versatile in form compared to the single-stick hairpin, often made of metal or wood.

Hair Comb: Resembles a thin comb-shaped body. It has a broader range of applicable materials compared to single-stick hairpins and hair clasps, including metal, wood, horn, bone, and shell.

Hair Crown: Comprised of a crown body and a single hairpin. 'Crown' is a general term for head adornments used to denote status, identity, and ceremonial purposes. While historically used by men, in modern times, beautifully designed female crowns have emerged.

Assorted Hairpin Shapes: A category of hairpins that exhibits varied forms in modern production, not belonging to any of the aforementioned types.


Chinese hair pin materials

The materials used for hairpins are diverse and primarily include the following:


Bone: Ancient hairpins were primarily crafted from animal bones. Bone hairpins come in various colors, both natural and artificially dyed, exhibiting high quality and delicate textures.

Stone: Among stones, jade hairpins are the most precious. There are various types of jade hairpins, including white jade, jadeite, nephrite, black jade, and others.

Clay: Clay hairpins emerged from the late Neolithic period to the Xia, Shang, and Zhou periods. After the Han Dynasty, metal and ceramic hairpins also appeared.

Wood: Wooden hairpins were commonly used in ancient times and remain prevalent as one of the materials for hairpins.

Bamboo: Bamboo hairpins were relatively common in ancient times.

Metal: Metal hairpins, including gold, silver, copper, and others, were among the more commonly used materials for hairpins in ancient societies.


Apart from these common materials, hairpins were also made from various other materials such as bamboo, wood, jade, tortoiseshell, ceramics, bone, teeth, gold, silver, and copper.


The Way of Wearing and Cultural Significance of Hairpins


In ancient society, women commonly inserted hairpins into their hair buns to secure their hair and showcase their beauty and status. Hairpins were also symbolic, representing the position and authority of women in both the household and society. Consequently, women paid meticulous attention to details and the way they paired their hairpins.


Different hairpins had varying methods of wearing. For instance, elongated hairpins could be directly inserted into the hair bun, while crescent-shaped ones might be bent and then inserted. Flower-shaped hairpins could be positioned within the floral arrangement or among the hair. Additionally, there were specific styles of wearing, such as 'inserting comb' or 'flower insertion.'


Beyond their methods of wear, hairpins held rich cultural significance. In traditional Chinese culture, 'the body's skin and hair are bestowed by one's parents,' signifying that hair is an integral part of the body. Therefore, there was a strong emphasis on hair care and decoration. As one of the essential hair adornments, hairpins carry diverse cultural meanings. For instance, the 'Phoenix-head hairpin' symbolizes auspiciousness and good fortune, the 'Butterfly hairpin' signifies beauty and freedom, while the 'Flower hairpin' embodies life and hope. Moreover, some specific hairpins like the 'Hundred Longevity Cane' or 'Longevity Cane' carry positive connotations of longevity and health.



Chinese hair pin how to use

The method of using a hairpin is as follows:


  1. Tie the hair into a ponytail.
  2. Insert the hairpin into the elastic band of the hair.
  3. Wrap the hair around the hairpin downwards until all the hair is wrapped in.
  4. Insert the hairpin into the elastic band, pulling it slightly upward.
  5. Insert the pin upward into the hair.




In conclusion, as a crystallization of wisdom from ancient Han Chinese people, hairpins are not merely beautiful adornments but also a legacy and development of culture. We should cherish and uphold this cultural heritage, allowing it to radiate new splendor and charm in modern society!




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