The mythical Jade Emperor is sometimes portrayed as put on a mortarboard hat with strings that jewels suspended from its edges:


According come Shen Yun"s post:

Hanging from the front and ago of the emperor’s hat space twelve strings of beads. They’re referred to as “yù zǎo” in Chinese—pendants the jade beads. “Yù" or jade symbolizes upright character, when “zǎo” describes the silk strings the are supplied to string the jade beads together, i beg your pardon reflect a clear and pure mind. The twelve pendants in ~ the former swing v the tiniest movement, and prompt the Emperor to preserve a right gaze and also proper posture. They likewise serve together a reminder to the Emperor to just make decisions through upright thoughts, and perceive things through a clear and pure mind.

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Did the historic emperors that China ever wear such a hat? If so, exactly how often?

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You"re explicate the mian (冕), a style of classical Chinese head dress the was without doubt worn by successive kings of China. The an easy design contained a hat secured to the head with a red wire (纓), topped through a rectangular board (綖), through threads of jewel (旒) attached to its front and back edges, and also two "ear plugs" (充耳) hanging off the two sides.

Click to enlarge: contents of a mian design.

In antiquity, the very same general layout was component of the formal courtly dress, worn by the the aristocracy (士、大夫、卿), local princes (諸侯), as well as the can be fried (天子). Their difference in standing was illustrated by the number of the gem subject - according to the publication of Rites:


The child of Heaven"s mian has actually 12 liu; the princes 9, the high the aristocracy 7, the low the aristocracy 5, and also shi 3.

Chinese scholar in the late antiquity believed this expected 12 gem object on each of the former and back edges. Contemporary scholars however have reasoned that just the prior edge had actually these threads.

Either way, after the marriage of China under Qin, design of the imperial crown resolved on 12 threads on both ends of the top board. Because that example, in the 7th century Painting of emperors of previous Dynasties, seven of the 13 emperors portrayed were displayed in this style. Han dynasty regulations, however, stipulated the court public official only have the gem subject in the front, no the back.

Left: The first Emperor of Qin. Middle: Emperor Wu of Jin. Right: Emperor Wen of Sui

The mian stayed standard until roughly the tang dynasty, however its cumbersomeness led it come be increasingly reserved for just the many formal occasions, mainly the highest possible ceremonial rites (e.g. Honouring royal ancestors or do offerings come the heaven and the earth) and coronations, as well as part of the annual new years ceremonies in ~ court.

Left: royal mian native the Mausoleum of Ming"s Wanli Emperor. Right: royal mian that Ming"s King Lu. Keep in mind the distinction in threads.

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Use the the mian to be abolished in 1652, shortly after the Manchurian occupation of China, as soon as it was replaced by traditional Manchu clothes at court. However, after ~ the starting of the Republic, it (or a budget variation thereof) to be briefly revitalized as component of China"s main ceremonial dress.