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Manchu Hairstyle

Manchu hairstyle and headwear are unique, especially Manchu females' headwear. It is elegant and magnificent, natural and graceful.

In the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), Manchu adult men shaved all the hair off the front head, only leaving the hair on the top and at the back of the head, plaiting it into a tail hanging behind, mainly for the convenience of riding on a horse and hunting animals in the forest in mountainous area. Manchus thought the pigtail is where the true soul inhabits, regarding it as the essence of life. So, if a Baqi (Eight-Banner) officer or soldier dies afield, his pigtail must be taken back to his hometown, to be buried solemnly, which was called "Shao xiao bian" (sending back the pigtail).

Before a Manchu woman grows up, she wears a single pigtail hanging behind; at the end of the pigtail is wound with a red cord, the front hair is cut into a bang, and often a bead made of gold or silver or jewelry is fastened on the tip of the pigtail, which is swinging with the wind, to show a sense of beauty.

Manchu married women must arrange their hair into a bun, with a silver Bianfang (an ornamental stick) thrust in it, called "Gaoliangtou" (sorghum-shaped hairstyle). The most typical one is the "Liangbatou": tying the hair on the top of the head, plaiting it into a shape of swallowtail, letting the long hair hang on the back neck, and putting a fan-shaped hair coronet on it. This hairstyle is called "Qitou" (hair of the Manchu nobility) or "Jingtou" (hair of the capital).

Manchu women like fresh flowers, and often put a Yahuazan (flower-pressing hairpin) or Zhuhuazan (flower-bead hairpin) made of gold, silver or emerald, in their hair. Manchu women have always valued hairstyle and headwear, and never done foot binding, thus renowned for "golden head and heavenly feet".

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