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October 21, 2012
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Tang Dynasty Mulan by suburbanbeatnik Tang Dynasty Mulan by suburbanbeatnik
So here's Mulan, my next Disney heroine in my 'historically accurate Disney heroine' series. (The others can be seen here). I decided to go in a different direction for this-- instead of re-imagining one of the movie costumes in a more historical context, I re-imagined the costume completely. My somewhat selfish reason is that I find the generic 'ancient-y' han-fu in the movie to be pretty boring, especially when the actual history of Chinese costume is fascinating, varied and incredibly rich.

This particular costume is called a 'large-sleeved gown,' and it is a famous style from the Tang dynasty period, which is arguably the first period in human history to feature actual honest-to-God low-cut gowns. The famous painting by Zhou Fang-- "Beauties with Flowery Hairpins", from the late 8th century AD-- features this style. (This style is also the basis of the amazing costumes in Curse of the Golden Flower, which I watched for inspiration.) The story of Mulan is usually set during the Sui or Tang period-- there is a decent run-down of the variants of the legend here-- so I felt that putting it in this period was not unsuitable (especially since the movie itself is so generic, and pretty much impossible to date). I was inspired by the color scheme in the final dress she wore in the movie-- but put more of an emphasis on the crimson and turquoise, since that color scheme would be more indicative of a mature, confident woman. She holds her father's sword, and the emperor's seal hangs around her wrist (one wouldn't want to ruin the lines of the gown, after all).

If you're interested in Chinese costume history, then I highly recommend Gao Chunming's seminal book, 5000 Years of Chinese Costume, which I used for research. It's kind of expensive, but you can probably get it from the library.
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:iconbarbiegirldolls100:
BarbieGirlDolls100 Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014
Just want you to know that this is a wonderful drawing. However Curse of the golden flower isn't a very reliable source. Especially the neckline. Chinese is a very conservative culture. The dress of the tang dynasty may have had the lowest neckline in Chinese dress, but no women during that time would dare show cleavage. Notice in the painting beauties with flowery hairpins the artist doesnt even draw cleavage, that's because the ladies arent showing any. Curse of the golden flower is a more modern take on the ancient dress so it is actually a very innaccurate representation of the tang dynasty dress. (ps I am Chinese)
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:iconorangehotaru:
OrangeHotaru Featured By Owner May 16, 2014
Having the seal around her wrist makes sense since it's reminiscent of the scene where she climbs up the pole.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Yup! :)
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:iconartgyrl:
artgyrl Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Wow. I love this so much. The details in the dress are gorgeous.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! :)
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:iconpurpletatsu:
PurpleTatsu Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
It's so pretty it causes me physical pain urgh.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you... I think? ;)
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:iconpsychotic-pink:
Psychotic-Pink Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
I think they stated that they intended this movie to be set during the Tang dynasty as well.  *watches extra features*  Mainly because they thought the dress styles were the most interesting.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
That's pretty cool! And it's hard to beat Tang Dynasty costuming-- the clothes were so gorgeous.
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:icontheyoungguardian:
TheYoungGuardian Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2014
Thank you for the picture/information, I really want to make a writing site/blog on Ancient China/Chinese history<33
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