17 thoughts on “The Empresses in the Palace – An Intro to Chinese Drama

  1. The costumes are so lush and gorgeous. I must see the series. Wonder if YouTube has it? Or is it out on DVD region 1?

    Only other ‘Eastern’ costume drama I can think of is Shogun. This is a welcome addition to it.

  2. Oh, if you loved this you might want to try Rise the Red Lantern. I watched that while recovering from surgery and found it fascinating.

    1. I keep trying to get Trystan to review Raise the Red Lantern. I remember seeing it when it came out in the American market and being blown away by the visuals. The storyline, however, was suuuuuper depressing.

      1. Raise the Red Lantern is one of my favorite movies, both for its visual beauty and its storytelling (even though, as you say, it’s depressing). And of course, it’s the first film that came to mind on reading this article.

    2. Raise the Red Lantern is a well done movie, but has gotten some flack as it exoticized/made stuff up to appeal to overseas audiences. That should probably be addressed if they cover the movie.

  3. There was an excellent drama about the Yongzheng emperor made around the early 2000s which I would recommend. To see court fashions worn during the late 19th to early 20th century, “Towards the Republic” ‘or “For the Sake of the Republic” (Zou Xiang Gong He in Chinese) is a must see although the costumes worn by the diplomats from Europe and America leave a lot to be desired.

  4. I’m pretty sure the trousers are accurate. Non-aristocratic women women wore trousers under a shorter, tunic-style gown. I can’t find a picture of trousers on someone who is clearly non-aristocratic, but I can find lots of photographs of aristocratic women where the gowns crease inwards in a way that looks like the legs are separated underneath and not smoothed by underdress. I also have read letters from men sent to the U.S. to study grappling with the fact that their robes are girly to Americans but American trousers are feminine to superiors who insist the men wear robes. The area I’ve studied most in Chinese costume is 20th century so this isn’t my expertise but I’m pretty confident.

  5. The person in pink who you labeled as Meizhuang is actually Qi pin, who later get’s demoted to promise Qi.

    This is Meizhuang: http://g01.a.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1MKSZKFXXXXafXpXXq6xXFXXXi/TV-Play-font-b-Legend-b-font-font-b-of-b-font-Empress-font-b-Zhenhuan.jpg

    Though I think her most iconic hairstyle is the one with the silk rose and blck/gold buyao:

    A bit of extra trivia: The blue hair ornaments are called ‘dancui’ and were made by inlaying actual kingfisher feathers in gold.

  6. I started to watch the series some time ago, but I haven’t finished it. I definitely felt that there were some strange plots and events that just disappeared, which of course is explained if it’s been cut down from 76 to 6 episodes. Gorgeous costumes though

  7. I know Adina already said this, but the one captioned “BFF Shen Meizhuang” isn’t Mei, it’s one of the conniving brats who has it in for Huan Er and her pals. Nasty lil’ Qi pin, I almost feel bad for her when karma gets her…almost.

  8. The picture of a woman in pink dress with caption saying “her BFF Shen Mei-zhuang” is wrong. She is “qi guiren”(Don’t know the English name, qi guiren is her Chinese name). And she is actually one of Zhen Huan’s enemies.

  9. Can you tell what are the white scarfs all the comcubines are wearing around thei necks? Is it a rank mark? I see that they are decorated differently, but everybody has one. Interesting read, this post!

    1. The scarves are just fashionable, at least as far as I can tell from casual research; sets them above the masses as ladies of elegance and refinement and all that. The decoration is likely just part of the age old issue of whether someone can afford it or not. More decoration means “hey, I’m so rich even my sweaty neck tie has gold on it!”, plain means that you can’t afford the shiny embroidery, etc. You should watch the full series (not Netflix) for more examples of the different fashions based on status.

  10. This, or rather the full version, is also available on DramaCool at up to 720p HD with English subtitles. These by the way are very well done for the first 20 or so episodes and then rapidly become dire. I am finishing episode 32 as I write and since mid 20’s they have become steadily more awful. Gramar and gender, person, tence are all frequently wron and there are editing codes meant to give line-breaks which don’t but are very irritating. Then there are modern americanisums such as kid (instead of child) and [you] guys (instead of people/persons. The english is frequently such gibberish I can’t believe it was ever passed. It’s slipshod and full of typo’s – such a shame since the visual content and cinematography is stunning. I will look for it on Viki to compare because frankly the DC subtitles are so unprofessional they kill the enjoyment!

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