New drama wows audiences with Tang Dynasty costumes
Drawing on history
Published: Apr 18, 2021 05:58 PM
Promotional material for <em>Court Lady</em> Photos: Courtesy of Huanyu

Promotional material for Court Lady Photos: Courtesy of Huanyu

Promotional material for <em>Court Lady</em> Photos: Courtesy of Huanyu

Promotional material for Court Lady Photos: Courtesy of Huanyu

A new Chinese period drama has grabbed audience's attention with its full display of China's Tang Dynasty's (618-907) culture as well as its interesting storyline. Court Lady, a romantic story about two young people living in an alternate history, has become a hot topic on Sina Weibo due to its full display of historically accurate costumes from the glorious dynasty that existed more than 1,000 years ago. 

Starring Xu Kai and Li Yitong, the latest work from Huanyu TV, the studio behind the phenomenal hit drama Story of Yanxi Palace, premiered on Chinese streaming sites such as Tencent Video and iQIYI on Thursday.  

Audiences were pleasantly surprised to discover that the costumes in the drama, from clothing to hair styles, were very similar to the depictions of people in the 1,000-year-old  murals in Dunhuang's Mogao Grottoes, which houses caves filled with numerous precious murals featuring war scenes, Buddha stories as well as portraits of donors. 

The hashtag for the drama has earned over 100 million views on Sina Weibo, with most comments focusing on the show's detailed costumes, appealing storyline and positive message about the main characters' homeland.  

According to Huanyu, designer duo Song Xiaotao and Luan Hexin, who have rich experience working on ancient period dramas and China's cultural heritage, are behind the costume design. 

According to reports, the show features more than 3,000 costumes that reference Tang elements as well as traditional handicraft techniques such as inlaying mother of pearl onto lacquer and tie-dying clothes. 

For the hairstyles, Song said that most inspiration came from the Dunhuang murals which include a number of portraits of female donors. "Most of them, coming from rich families, had different hair accessories and styles, which gives us some insight into the trendy items and designs of the day," said she.  

Another innovation that Song and Luan came up with was to inlay mother of pearl onto lacquer parts of the clothing and accessories, a technique often used for furniture during the Tang Dynasty.  "It was not easy to make this a reality due to the fragility of the shells. However, we placed it on the accessories and even on the clothing, which looked interesting," she added.    

For director Wang Xiaoming, the  costumes and setting have helped tell a good story in more natural way. "It is indeed a story about romance, friendship and feelings toward one's homeland," he said.