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ivoci - Traditional Chinese Women's Forehead Makeup, Huadian 花钿 - 1

Huadian (花钿 ; huā diàn) is a form of traditional Chinese women’s ornamental forehead makeup, which is located between the eyebrows.

It is typically red but can also be found in different colors, such as green and yellow.

Huadian comes in various shapes and patterns, such as flowers, plum blossoms, butterflies, coins, peaches, birds, phoenixes, and other animals.

Various materials such as gold leaf, silver leaf, paper, fish scales, feathers, pearls, gems, and dragonfly wings can be used.

ivoci - Traditional Chinese Women's Forehead Makeup, Huadian 花钿 - 2

The Origin of Huadian

According to legend, Princess Shouyang, daughter of Liu Yu, Emperor Wu of Liu Song in the Southern dynasties, was resting outside the Hanzhang Hall one day.

The plum tree in front of the hall was blown by the wind, the plum blossoms drifted away and stuck to the princess’s forehead. The plum blossoms were washed away, but the princess still had a petal mark on her forehead.

The palace ladies saw the plum blossom seal set off the charming princess, then followed the example of cutting the plum blossoms and pasting them on the forehead.

But plum blossoms weren’t available all year round, so women came up with the idea to cut the gold foil into petal shapes and stick them on their foreheads or cheeks.

Later, this kind of make-up spread to the people, and they all scrambled to follow it, thus a new kind of make-up was born, which is called ‘plum blossom makeup (梅花妆 ; méi huā zhuāng)’.

With the popularity of plum blossom makeup, the decorative patterns of makeup have also gradually developed from plum blossoms into butterflies, phoenixes, and other various patterns, later this type of women’s forehead makeup in flower decoration will have one name, which is called “Huadian”.

ivoci - Traditional Chinese Women's Forehead Makeup, Huadian 花钿 - 3

(1), (2), (4) from silk paintings unearthed in Turpan, Xinjiang
(3) from wooden figurines unearthed in Turpan, Xinjiang
(5), (6), (7), (8) from the Dunhuang Mogao Cave paintings
(9), (10), (11), (12), (14) from Tang dynasty ancient paintings
(13) from Terracotta figurines from the Tang dynasty unearthed in Xi’an, Shaanxi province

Huadian Artistic Value

Huadian makeup, from the rise of the Southern dynasties, popular in the Tang dynasty until the Yuan dynasty gradually disappeared from the women’s dressing table.

In present days, Huadian does not appear on a woman’s face as makeup. However, Huadian is also used as a form of makeup for women when wearing Hanfu. It is also depicted in many Chinese television dramas.

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