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yi shan guan (翼善冠)

Chinese. ‘Winged-crown of virtue’ or ‘benevolent finned-hat’. Name of the cap-like crown worn by the Chinese emperors (fig.) and princes of the Ming Dynasty. It was also used in the Kingdom of Korea, and by the sovereigns of Vietnam, as well as by the kings of the Ryukyu or Nansei Islands in the East China Sea. This stiff hat consists of a concave-shaped helmet with a flat back, which has two rabbit ear-like (or wing-like) upright flaps attached to it. The crown can be made of any stiff or firm material, even gold, e.g. the net-like gold crown found in the Ding Ling Tomb of Ming Emperor Wan Li (万历), one of the 13 Ming Dynasty Tombs located to the North of present-day Beijing. The form, which is somewhat reminiscent of the helmet-like headdress worn by Akha women of the Loimi tribe (fig.), seems to have derived from a Chinese soft cap formerly worn by officials and academics, and known as fu tou (幞頭), and which resembles a turban or bandera-style headscarf, with two loose ends. Those loose ends tied up to the back may have resulted in the two decorative wings on the back of the yi shan guan. The form also resembles that of the wu sha mao (烏紗帽), i.e. a black cap made of cotton and worn by feudal officials, with two stiff flaps sticking out at either side. Again, those flaps put upright would result in the shape of the yi shan guan. Yi shan guan are often elaborately decorated. With royal headwear, the term guan is usually reserved for any formal headgear. Also transcribed yishan guan and yishanguan.