Current Hairpiece Project

A Double Ban Fan Ji (半翻髻)

Looking through a lot of extant tomb murals and pottery figurines from the Tang Dynasty, one of the hairstyles that I see a LOT is what looks like two tall wings sweeping back from the top of the head (see photos below). A lot of digging found that this style was called “Ban Fan Ji” or upswept bun. The specific two-wing version I’m looking at is a double ban fan ji.

The single ban fan ji appears to have been more popular, but as both are still common (and I already have a very long, thin face rather than the preferred round face), I decided that the double ban fan ji hairpiece would add a bit more width and be more flattering on me.

There is also significant evidence of false hairpieces and wigs being used in the Tang Dynasty (and earlier). There are a few pieces still extant, though I haven’t been able to find out exactly how they were attached to one’s head yet. I still don’t read Chinese, alas, so there’s a lot of waiting for translations involved. One of the extant pieces is painted wood, one is horse hair on some kind of shaped base, and I’ve also found a less-specifically shaped base made of cloth and wire–I need to dig the image for that up and I’ll add it when I find it again.

Some of my materials for making hairpieces are NOT period. Extant hairpieces were made of wood, cloth, and/or wire, but I use wire and foam sheets to be able to keep the final piece as light as possible. These things get heavy FAST and I much prefer not to have a massive headache and neck ache all day from trying hold my hairpiece up. I also use enormous amounts of glue, which may be period (looks like it, from what I can see on that horse hair piece). There’s a good chance that there was a lot of wax involved in styling hair and hairpieces, but I’ve tried that once and unless I want to have that style in for at least a week, it isn’t worth the effort required for SCA purposes. It’s also really hard on your real hair and scalp.

I’m hoping that weather will cooperate for GNEW in two weeks–if so, I’ll bring a bunch of material and work on a piece out where people can watch what I’m doing. 🙂


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