Thursday, 18 March 2010

A Wuxia Scholar

We were going for much more of scholarly look to this set, hence the scroll (it's actually a free calendar from one of the many local Chinese takeaways) and the braid.

The surcoat is made of a coarse grey wool. The long sash and large robe are made of a pale blue linen-polyester. The white shorter robe underneath is the same as that worn with the red robes and is made of white linen-polyester.

The Red Wuxia robes are almost identical to the Blue ones, with exception of colours (obviously) and the way we've layered them on. They both have hidden pockets in the sleeve and due to similarity in materials, the same remarks about the rather useful non-wrinkling nature of the fabric apply again.

Wuxia scholars aren't usually female, though there is a huge amount cross-dressing in the stories. Needless to say, this dates back to folk stories such as Mulan and rather with greater relevance to the subject of scholars, Yingtai from the Butterfly Lovers. The great progenitor of the Wuxia genre, Jin Yong (aka Louis Cha) has countless crossdressing heroines, including Huang Rong from Legend of the Condor-Shooting Heroes. More recognisable to the Western audience is probably Jen's brief disguise in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

It's actually a mild problem that Western audiences are usually not very able to read the crossdressing cues in a wuxia film since both genders wear somewhat similar loose-fitting robes.

Wuxia robes are almost entirely about the layering and colours, rather than complex or even intricate design. The Mercenary was playing about with them at one point to try to apply the "steampunk" template to them and it didn't exactly go well, loose robes don't really mix well with Victoriana, corsetry and fitted garments. But we'll perhaps see the results when I get around to doing some photos of the results.

Any ideas from the readers?

Incidentally, we saw Phil Gates, author of Horrible Science book Evolve or Die, at the Botanic Gardens. It's not exactly a rare occurance, he does work there, but he does have three blogs, including Cabinent of Curiosities, a natural history blog from the North East of England. The Designer thinks there's good money to be made in trying to sell these Jade Vines to the Chinese - if only they aren't horribly endangered.

To commission a similar set of robes from the Costume Mercenary would cost something in the region of £80.

As always, more photos under the cut.


  1. This is amazing work! I find myself nostalgic for those movies just by looking at these pictures. I've been looking for a wuxia-inspired costume for a while now to mesh with my steampunk costume, and yours is the first site I've ever come across which makes these. May I ask what fabric you use? Also, POCKETS IN THE SLEEVES? DO WANT.

  2. Linen-Polyester blend for the most part in the wuxia costumes. Looks a lot like a rough-spun linen, but the texture is kinda "crunchy". I'm still of two minds about it since it is very, very easy to care for, flows beautifully and doesn't crease, [i]but[/i] it rustles a little oddly and is rather obviously not linen when you touch it.

    Watch this space? We've been batting around ideas for asian steampunk for a while and some of it might make it to the blog.


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