At War of the Roses this past weekend, I finally got the touhu (pitch pot) set out and got people to play a few rounds.

I did alter the traditional rules some to make it more accessible/appealing to SCA players (I, for one, am TERRIBLE at poetry and coming up with words off the cuff). I also added that the winner of each round could request a small boon of the defeated–a story, a dance, a song…. whatever, so long as the defeated consented to the request. So we did use the traditional 2.5 arrow length distance, but the rest of the rules were somewhat ad hoc.

Results: HILARIOUS. Several of my players declined the alcohol portion of the game, but decided instead to stick with the on-the-spot poetry composition! None of it was even remotely Chinese-style poetry (most were limericks), but a both players and bystanders were shouting with laughter and a great deal of fun was had. I’ll put up some of the videos as soon as I get them off my phone.

I did NOT shout “A&S!!!” beforehand, but I really should have. lol


Helpful Terminology for Tang Dynasty Clothing

Primarily from BuYun Chen’s “Dressing for the Times: Fashion in Tang Dynasty China (618-907)” 2013 Columbia University PhD dissertation and some from Wikipedia (confirmed in other sources–I just wanted to get the characters for each item and Wikipedia had those where I could copy/paste them)

shan 衫 – unlined short robe or top

ru 襦 – short jacket

qun 裙 – skirt

ruqun 襦裙 – jacket and skirt ensemble

pibo 披帛 – long shawl

ao 袄 – coat

pao 袍- cloak

banbi 半臂 – cropped short-sleeved jacket

jianse qun 間色裙 – striped skirt

po 破 – sections of a skirt (early Tang (618-712) restricted skirts to 12 po, later they were restricted to 7 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong, then 5 in 826 by Emperor Wenzong)

shiliu qun 石榴裙 – pomegranate red skirt

bainiao qun 百鳥裙 – hundred bird feather skirt

tanling ruqun 坦领襦裙 – u-shaped neckline ruqun

qixiong ruqun 齊胸襦裙 – high-waisted/chest-high ruqun

daxiushan 大袖衫 – large-sleeve gown

hufu 胡服 – foreign/”barbarian” clothing

yuanlingpao/yuanlingshan 圓領袍/圓領衫 – round-collar jacket/robe

bixi 蔽膝 – a cloth attached from the waist, covering front of legs, for more formal occasions


weimao 帷帽 – wide-brimmed hat with a shoulder-length gauze veil, more popular in Tang than the more conservative mili

mili 羃䍦 – wide-brimmed hat with a long (full body) veil

futou 襆頭/幞頭 – lit. “head scarf”, black kerchief with ribbons dangling worn by men; later, hard ribbons were added that stuck out at the sides

Courtesan-/Sex-Related Terminology and Euphemisms

A lot of source material about courtesans in the Tang Dynasty is found in poetry of the time, and poetry is full of symbolism and euphemisms. Here are some euphemisms I’ve found while reading that can help you puzzle out what the flowery language is ACTUALLY talking about! I’ll include the associated characters whenever possible, and this list will update from time to time as I find more useful info.

My Chinese is terrible and all of these were taken from other sources/translations, so if I’ve gotten something wrong or if you know more terms or euphemisms, let me know in the comments!


ji 妓, chang 娼, chi – “For the purposes of this article, I will generally use the terms “entertainer” or “courtesan,” but these English terms are at best crude approximations; I shall argue that they do not capture important distinctions implied by the words ji and chang up to and through most of the Tang.” (Taken verbatim from Bossler, B., “Vocabularies of Pleasure”), sometimes also translated as “prostitute” or “whore”. Edward Schafer suggested that the term ji implied greater gentility than chang, but he did not explore the origins of the distinction; see his “Notes on T’ang Geisha,” Schafer Sinological Papers (1984), nos. 2, 4, 6, 7 (Library of University of California, Berkeley), no. 2, p. 4.

chia-ji/jia-ji – “household” courtesans/entertainers, privately owned, acquired either by being purchased or gifted

ming-ji 名妓- brothel courtesans/entertainers, usually owned by courtesans-turned madams

guan-ji 官妓- official courtesans/entertainers, owned by the government and assigned to civil officials

ying-ji 營妓- military courtesans/entertainers, owned by the government; note that these were not of lower class than the other types of courtesans–they served the military officials rather than being “camp follower”-type prostitutes

kung-ji – palace courtesans/entertainers, owned by the government

Note: Wang Shu-hu notes 23 different terms that refer to courtesans and prostitutes, so there are many more that I don’t have listed, see Wang, Chung-ku ch’ang-chi shih. (I have not actually read this article yet, as I don’t read Chinese, but I’m hunting down a copy and will see if I can get it translated.)

jiaofang – Entertainment Bureau, where entertainers/courtesans registered with the government

demimonde – a common romanticized term for female entertainers

changlou 倡 or 娼樓 – “entertainment pavilions” (brothels)

ji lou 妓樓 – courtesan/entertainment pavilion, see changlou

liyuan dizi 梨園弟子 – “Pear Garden disciples”, later a euphemism for courtesans and eventually a rude slur; the Pear Garden was the palace school for entertainers/courtesans

guanji 觀妓 – watching courtesans

tingji – listening to courtesans

tanxue – conversation and jokes

geling – singing lyrics and drinking games

changjia – a dashing and wealthy young man who frequented the houses of courtesans

yunji – a reserved and cultivated person

qie 妾 – concubine; these women were neither wives nor courtesans, but functioned like wives with fewer rights in a household, meant to bear the “husband” children and exclusively for him (as opposed to a house courtesan, who could be loaned out or gifted to others)


Long-legged horses – young girls, often used in context of them being sold as slaves

Silk socks (lo-wa) – a dancer’s feet

Se, meaning “color” or “beauty” – often insinuates sexuality

“Kingfisher pins” or “carmine sleeves” – imply beauties/beautiful women

Zhuanglou – either a woman’s boudoir or to a qinglou, a bordello/brothel

Genyi – euphemism for privy, also a person who works in the imperial wardrobe

Eastern mountain wanderings – poetic trope for dallying with courtesans

Spring boats, painted boats, flower boats – courtesan or prostitution boats, especially “notorious” in Yangchou

“State toppler” – a particularly beautiful woman, implies the dangers of beautiful women

“Fallen flower” – courtesan/prostitute

“Clouds and rain” – sex

Waiting for a flower to bloom – waiting for a girl to have her first menstruation and therefore be available for sex


Bossler, B. 2012. “Vocabularies of pleasure: Categorizing female entertainers in the late Tang Dynasty.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 72.1 (2012): 71-99.

Yao, P. 2002. “The Status of Pleasure: Courtesan and Literati Connections in T’ang China”. Journal of Women’s History. v. 14, No. 2, pp. 26-53.

Wang Shu-nu. 1933; reprint, 1988. Chung-kuo ch’ang-chi shih. (A history of prostitution in China). Shanghai: Shang-hai san-lien shu-tien.

Wangling Jinghua. 2009. “Singing Lips in Observation: Ninth-Century Chinese Poetry on Female Entertainers”. Ph.D. diss., Harvard University.

Schafer, E. 1984. “Notes on T’ang Geisha,” Schafer Sinological Papers. nos. 2, 4, 6, 7 (Library of University of California, Berkeley), no. 2, p. 4.

Current Project: a Mongolian Boqta

I have a brand, and that brand is apparently Fancy Headgear.

I was honored to be asked if I’d be willing to make a boqta for a baroness/vicerine who I like a lot but haven’t gotten to spend much time with’s deinvestiture. It being me, I’m going for the Boqta to End All Boqtas.

I do enjoy Extra. 🙂

In progress photos and finished shots won’t be posted until after the event (I’d like her to see it first), but here’s some research photos! I will also add links to resources I used after it’s done and my brain remembers to document things.

Pennsic Doings (aka my continuing fight with gravity)

I made very little for myself for Pennsic 2022, which is for the best. This meant that I was available when Remy desperately needed new clothes–he out-swoled nearly all of his–and I am sufficiently extra (and versed in Cavalier-era garb) to make some for him so he didn’t have to stress about it.

The goal was 3 new doublets and 3 new breeches, but I only managed 2 of each, partly due to a Gravitational Anomaly the day before I was due to leave for Pennsic. Aka I’m super clumsy and fell down the front stairs while hauling bins out to the car and broke my left elbow, bruised some ribs, and bashed my forehead into the street. No really. I headbutted the street. Asphalt and I are not friends. Fortunately, I did not have a concussion, just a really gnarly egg that was super vein-y and creepy looking. The broken arm and SUPER unhappy ribs were a much bigger problem. Still, I am a stubborn creature and continued the hand-sewing portions of working on Remy’s garb anyway because we can’t have Remy running around Pennsic naked. Even if many jokes were made that I’d get a service award if he did. 🙂 I promise that I stopped when it hurt more than hand sewing normally does.

In the ER waiting to be seen the night I went ass over teakettle.

I did use his pre-existing pattern with a little bit extra put in the seams to accommodate the extra swole. The results went a bit weird (there ended up being WAY too much fabric in the front seam and we’re not sure how that happened), but it was possible to work with it and get things looking mostly decent. I’ll post pics when I take some of the one yet-unfinished outfit.

On the plus side, I did have his fancy royal blue velveteen with silver woven trim ready for his Champ’s fight, and it looked LOVELY in the sunlight. I have plans to add some more trim to it (I was short on time) and I only have a couple of photos of it in action, so I need to dress him up and make him pose for me to show it off properly.

Remy in fancy doublet and pants, killing Max during the first ever spear fight done for Pennsic Rapier Champs. Good job, Remy!

Resources Master List

As I go through trying to organize my thoughts, I am constantly forgetting exactly where I found xyz information, so maybe this will be a way to help people see where I’m getting my info. 🙂

DEFINITELY not a complete list! This is just for starters. Welcome to my library!

This is also not currently organized into topic sections—I hope to get to that eventually, but it’s gonna take a while. I have a LOT of sources! I am constantly digging through JSTOR and journal article repositories for new info.


I also have several books in Chinese that I need to have translated. I’m also desperately seeking an English translation of the Beili Zhi, “The Records/Analects of the Northern Ward”.


First, a note. A lot of websites don’t cite sources, but they can be very helpful for finding terminology to search for and especially for finding Chinese names/characters for things. They can also be excellent jumping-off points if they do cite sources. Just going through Wikipedia can net you all kinds of terminology to go digging for. Verify everything with multiple sources!

Journal Articles:

Other A&S Blogs:

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. 🙂

Fighting Writer’s Block (and how the [bad language] does WordPress work?!?!)

I’m trying, yet again, to get this blog off the ground, but I have been fighting a lot of writer’s block, a lot of lack of energy, and even more trying to figure out how to get WordPress to do pretty much anything. This is definitely not an intuitive platform!

I am absolutely an editor and not a writer (or a graphic designer), so apologies that a lot of my information is going to at least start off being very stream-of-consciousness and likely a giant mess to look at. Hopefully it makes some semblance of sense.

What the fuzzy hell is she up to now?

What is Phaedra up to? Like most people, I have had verrrrrry little energy past mere existence. That said, I have been working on a few things here and there. I’ve made a few Greek chitons. It’s actually really soothing to sit and hand-sew straight hems in linen while watching/half-ignoring something on tv. I just need to decide how to embellish them, since the printing blocks I ordered back in March are apparently never going to get here (ugh. No way am I going to get a refund at this point).

I’m currently mid-way through repairs to my rapier armor doublet. The collar and cuffs were getting GROSS and so I’ve torn them off and am replacing them with linen pieces that I can more easily pull off and wash/replace. The collar is done, now I just need to do the cuffs.

There are at least two mischief projects in the works. Or there were when I originally wrote up this post on FB, at least. At this point, I’ve completely forgotten what I was doing. Hopefully I wrote it down somewhere.

Additionally, I’m going through my giant mass of academic sources and trying to narrow down to 3-4 topics of reasonable scope to actually start writing or making presentations about. Current probabilities are:

  • Chinese courtesans (though that needs a lot of narrowing down–there’s a lot to a topic that broad!)
  • history of tea and serving tea in China
  • drinking games
  • connections/trade between China and Europe
  • the structure of Chinese households based on rank (the Imperial Household, a noble’s household, wives vs concubines vs maids vs household entertainers and how many of each you were allowed to have, etc.)

The Imperial Household may end up being its own topic because there’s a LOT, even just going through the various ranks of concubines–how many different ranks, how many per rank, what each rank did, how to move between ranks, the many roles of the eunichs, etc. As usual, I have more ideas than I have actual energy for. I’m trying to post here more often, but I get writer’s block so bad! Also, the “updated” WordPress user interface is shit and it’s super difficult to use. How the hell do I fix indents?!

It still counts if I’m guessing, right?

I have several projects currently in motion, hopefully to be completed by Pennsic. The most difficult involved a lot of applique and working with gold cloth. And a lot of me attempting to draw (not one of my skills) a decent-looking pattern for the applique blown up large enough to be what I want. Yes, I’m being deliberately vague here, but I don’t want to give it away/show it off before I get a chance to debut it. 🙂

I hope that it’s at least partly sunny for Opening Ceremonies. If this works, it’s going to be epic and I’d like to have it out in the sun where it can really shine. Hey, Her Majesty said that so long as I’m not actively on fire, I can go nuts and be as Extra as possible.

Why do I do this to myself? (Oh right, because I’m crazy.)

Pennsic Project List:
1. Secret Project and accessories
2. Roman tunics for The Boys (done!)
3. Roman courtesan dress for me (done!)
4. Camp tunic(s) for Thomas
5. Shirt for Remy
6. Light linen gown
7. Blue silk beaded veil (done!)
8. White silk veil and wimple
9. New cuffs and collar for my fencing doublet
10. At least one extra Chinese wig/hairpiece
11. Re-sew Roman garb and extend German cuffs/collar for Skye
12. Nice men’s style short cotehardie, if I get the chance.